Understanding Yeast Infections

 

Yeast Infections and the Body

When you first hear the words yeast infection, you may immediately assume vaginal yeast infection; however, there are different types of yeast infections which you may not know about. A yeast infection can affect both men and women, as well as infants and children. It’s important to understand the different types of yeast infections which may occur and seek prompt treatment for these infections.

What Is a Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a fungal infection. At this time, 20 different species of Candida yeast have been discovered which can develop into infections. You’ll also find yeast in areas of the body such as mucous membranes and skin which do not cause infection. The problem occurs when the yeast become overgrown. An overgrowth of yeast leading to an infection has different symptoms according to the area of the body in which the infection is present.

Thrush

Thrush — oropharyngeal candidiasis or esophageal candidiasis — is a yeast infection which is found in the throat or mouth. It is caused by an imbalance of yeast in the area which can be brought on by different reasons. Infants can develop thrush or those using certain medications such as Dulera for COPD. There are other ways to contract thrush as well. The symptoms of a yeast infection in the throat or mouth are white patches seen on the interior of the cheeks, tongue or other membranes, redness, problems swallowing and skin cracking in the corners of the mouth.

Genital

Genital yeast infections in women, also known as vulvovaginal, are the most common type of yeast infections. Like other yeast infections, they begin with an overgrowth of yeast in the genital area. This can be brought on by changes in the vagina such as hormonal fluctuations. Symptoms include burning, itching, a cottage cheese-like discharge, or pain during intercourse and urination.

In men, yeast infections are termed candidal balanitis or candidal balanoposthitis. They may affect the head of the penis or the foreskin area. Symptoms include itching, rash, pain during sex or urination, an unpleasant odor, a thick discharge around the foreskin area, or difficulty pulling back the foreskin.

Invasive Yeast Infection

Though rare, an invasive yeast infection is when yeast has entered the bloodstream and can spread to other areas of the body. This may occur if more common yeast infections are left untreated. Even though the symptoms are not specific, most individuals with this type of yeast infection may have fever and chills even after using antibiotics to treat suspected bacterial infections. The infection, if not stopped, can spread to other organs including the eyes, brain, spleen, joints, bones, muscles, liver, and kidneys. A systemic yeast infection has serious health consequences and can be difficult to treat. Treatment of candidiasis in other parts of the body is important to prevent the spread of the disease to the bloodstream.

Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment

A yeast infection can happen to anyone. Proper diagnosis and treatment of the infection is key to ridding yourself of the discomfort and eliminating the risk of more serious health consequences. Whether you see white spots on the tongue after using medication or notice itching and burning in the genital area, see your healthcare professional. You don’t have to feel embarrassed about having a yeast infection, but you do need to be responsible in treating it.