Candidiasis is a fungal infection predominantly caused by Candida yeasts. Candida albicans is the most common cause.
Candidiasis can affect areas such as the skin, genitals, throat, mouth and blood. Though this yeast is normally found in small amounts in the human body, its overgrowth causes the actual disease.
Certain medications and underlying health problems leads to the yeast growth in warm and moist body areas. This can produce uncomfortable and sometimes harmful symptoms.
Depending on the affected location, candidiasis is further classified as:
- Oral candidiasis, oropharyngeal candidiasis if it afflicts mouth or throat. It is seen in infants and elderly. Patients with weakened immune system due to chemotherapy and AIDS are reported to have this problem. It is also found in asthma and diabetic patients.
- If it affects the genital area, it is called a yeast infection. In women, it may be called a vulvovaginal yeast infection.
- Diaper rash occurs on bottom areas of
- Invasive candidiasis or candidemia occurs when the infection enters bloodstream.
Overgrowth of yeast can occur due to antibiotic use, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes and an impaired immune system. Whenever the balance of bacteria in vagina gets disturbed, it can cause candidiasis. A yeast infection is likely to be transmitted through oral-genital sexual contact. However, yeast infection may not be necessarily sexually transmitted, as women who are not sexually active can also harbor it. Though Candida occurs naturally in women, its overgrowth due to several other factors can cause infection.
Candida albicans responds well to typical treatments for yeast infections. Other types of candida, have been found to respond poorly to conventional therapies and may require more aggressive treatment.
Common symptoms include white spots inside the mouth and tongue accompanied by redness in the area. Lesions of the face, scalp, hands, and nails are noticed in patients. Individuals with oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) harbor sore and painful mouth, burning mouth or tongue, dysphagia and thick, whitish patches on the oral mucosa. Patients with esophageal candidiasis may remain asymptomatic or have symptoms of Dysphagia, Epigastric pain or nausea and vomiting.
Physical examination invariably reveals oral candidiasis.
Nonesophageal gastrointestinal candidiasis may be represented by epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and chills.
Genitourinary tract candidiasis is characterized by a thick, curdlike discharge in women. The male patients show whitish patches on the penis. Candida cystitis may remain asymptomatic, but bladder invasion may lead to increased frequency and urgency to pass urine. Dysuria, hematuria, and suprapubic pain are also manifested.
Candidiasis is diagnosed in the following manner:
Scrapings or smears from skin, nails, or oral or vaginal mucosa are examined under the microscope to study the fungal cells causing mucocutaneous candidiasis.
Cutaneous candidiasis is studied through a wet smear from skin or nails are examined under the microscope.
A urinalysis is performed to confirm genitourinary candidiasis. Presence of white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), protein, and yeast cells is common occurrence. Urine fungal cultures are useful to ascertain the condition.
Gastrointestinal candidiasis is diagnosed through endoscopy with or without biopsy.
Most localized cutaneous candidiasis infections can be treated with any number of topical antifungal agents such as clotrimazole, econazole, ciclopirox, miconazole, ketoconazole etc. Chronic mucocutaneous oropharyngeal as well as esophageal candidiasis is treated with oral azoles. For vaginal infection, anti-funal agents are administered both orally and topically.
Cystitis due to Candida should be treated with fluconazole. In catheterized patients, the Foley catheter should be removed or replaced; if the infection persists after the catheter change, patients should be treated with fluconazole.
A balanced diet rich in meats, chicken, eggs, seeds and nuts, vegetables, and healthy oils is mandatory for candidiasis patients. It is essential to avoid sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods.
Apple cider vinegar is an effective home remedy that naturally restores the pH of the body and eliminates yeast overgrowth. A balanced diet and adequate exercise can rebalance the levels of neurotransmitters and drastically improve the feeling of well-being. Since sugar in smallest amount can be detrimental, it is important to restrict consumption of fruits while undertaking treatment for this infection.
Intake of probiotics (good bacteria) through cultured and fermented foods can cure the imbalance in microbial flora of the gut. The good bacteria in probiotics help in maintaining health of vagina and gastrointestinal tract by ultimately eradicating the Candida. One must avoid exposure to chemicals such as perfumes and scents may cause allergies since chemical sensitivities are common in people with yeast infections.
Intake of Trikatu (long pepper, black pepper and ginger) before each meal is recommended. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is taken with pinch of dry ginger in hot water. Chewing fresh garlic before bed is recommended. Vidanga (Embelia ribes) and hing (Ferula asafoetida) is taken after meals with warm water and honey. Daily intake of neem (Azadirachta indica) is helpful to eradicate candidiasis.
Natrum muriaticum; Carcinosin 30; Phosphorus 1M; Nuxvom 30c, Sepia 30 are some of the homeopathic drugs for combating Candidiasis.
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