What Is Candidiasis?

Candidiasis is an infection caused by strains of candida fungus but especially candida albicans.

Candidiasis is an infection caused by strains of candida fungus but especially candida albicans. This fungus is often found in the vagina area and occasionally in other areas of mucous membranes such as the mouth or on damp skin. This infection is commonly called thrush or moniliasis. Most infections of the mucous membranes in the area affected by candidiasis are common in people who have a normal immune system. This is because its growth is controlled by the natural bacteria that is present in some organs. When an antibiotic treatment destroys too many of the bacteria or in cases where the bodies resistance is lowered this fungus can multiply and grow. Thus, it tends to be much more common or persistent in those with diabetes, pregnant women due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, women taking birth control pills and those with AIDS.

Anyone with an impaired immune system can consistently develop this fungus which will spread throughout the body by means of the blood stream. This might include those who have a low white blood cell count such as that caused by leukemia, those being given certain treatments for cancers, or those in who it is necessary to catheterize a blood vessel. Depending on the tissue that is infected the symptoms can vary. In some cases the near valves may become infected as a result from surgery or other procedures that are considered invasive and that involve the heart or blood vessels. Thrush, which is an infection of the mouth, will cause white, creamy appearing, painful raised patches to form on the inside of the mouth. If these patches form in the esophagus it makes it difficult for the person to eat or swallow. If the infection is in the heart area a fever may develop, as well as, an enlargement of the spleen and even a heart murmur. When the infection is in the retina it can cause blindness, while an infection of the blood or kidneys will cause fever, a decrease in urine output and extremely low blood pressure.

Candidiasis in the male genital area has been found to be more common in uncircumcised males and can result from intercourse with an infected partner. This fungus tends to spread from one warm, moist area to another easily and may even occur in conjunction with diaper rash, forming a red, itchy rash with flaky white patches. In the female genital area this infection will cause a thick, white discharge, itching and irritation that can cause discomfort when passing urine. In most cases the candidiasis can be diagnosed by a doctor after examination of a sample of the discharge or patches under a microscope. In some instances it is also necessary for a doctor to take samples of the blood or spinal fluid to be cultured so that they will revel the presence of this fungus. An antifungal drug may be prescribed such as clotrimazole, miconazole, nystatin or econazole nitrate. These are usually in the form of a cream for skin application or a suppository.

Even though the antifungal drugs will clear up most cases of candidiasis, the infection may reoccur. In many cases this is due to re-infection by a sexual partner. Because of this it is wise for both partners to be treated. In cases of skin candidiasis the skin should be kept as dry as possible. When the cause is birth control pills, the person affected should consider changing to another method of birth control as a preventative measure.

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