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Yeast Infection Tips
Candidacies, commonly called yeast infection or thrush, is a fungal infection of any of the Candida species, of which Candida albicans is probably the most common. Yeast organisms are always present in all people, but are usually prevented from "overgrowth" (uncontrolled multiplication resulting in symptoms) by naturally occurring microorganisms.
In immuno competent people, candidiasis can usually only be found in exposed and moist parts of the body, such as the oral cavity (oral thrush), the vagina (vaginal candidiasis or thrush), or folds of skin in the diaper area (diaper rash). Candidiasis is the most common cause of vaginal irritation or vanities.
Last Updated - 24th November 2005
At least three quarters of all women will experience candidiasis at some point in their lives. The Candida albicans organism is found in the vaginas of almost all women and normally causes no problems. However, when it gets out of balance with the other "normal flora", such as lactobacilli (which can also be harmed by using douches), an overgrowth and symptoms can result. Pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and some antibiotics, and diabetes mellitus increase the risk of infection.
The most common symptoms are itching and irritation of the vagina and/or vulva. A whitish or whitish-gray discharge may be present, sometimes resembling cottage cheese, and may have a "yeasty" smell like beer or baking bread. The normal smell is a lactic acid smell, like cheese or yogurt, due to lactobacilli, "good" bacteria that are also used to turn milk into cheese and yogurt.
In immunocompromised patients, the candida infection can become systemic, causing much more serious disease.
Candidiasis is alleged to be successfully treated either with home remedies or, in the case of a more severe infection, with either over the counter or prescription antifungal medications. Home remedies for candidiasis include the consumption or direct application of yogurt, which contains lactobacillus (a bacteria that kills yeast), acidophilus tablets or salves, and even lightly crushed cloves of garlic which yields allicin, an antifungal. Boric acid has also been used to treat yeast infections by filling gelcaps with boric acid powder and inserting two at bedtime for three to four nights.
Whilst home remedies only offer relief in minor cases of infection, seeking medical attention is a necessity as the extent of the infection often cannot be judged well by the sufferer. Prescription medication is often the only solution to an infection, the drugs commonly used to treat candidiasis are clotrimazole, nystatin, ketoconazole or amphotericin B in varying concentrations and applications.
If indicated, an underlying reason should be looked for. As an example, oral candidiasis is often linked to the use of inhaled steroids in asthma medication. Patients on long term inhaled steroids should rinse their mouth after each dose of steroids. Babies with diaper rash should have their diaper areas kept clean, dry, and exposed to air as much as possible. Sugar assists the overgrowth of yeast. In the case of frequent yeast infections, sugar can be looked to as a culprit and should be avoided.
A vaginal yeast infection is caused by an excess growth of yeast organisms in the vagina. Yeast infections are not spread by sexual contact; however, treating your partner with antifungal medications may help prevent recurrent yeast infections.
- Antibiotic use
- Steroid use
- Illnesses that weaken the immune system
- Frequent douching
- Tight clothing
- Strong soaps
- Perfumed feminine hygiene products
- Vaginal itching
- White, curdy, usually odorless vaginal discharge
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during intercourse
- Wear cotton-lined underwear
- Avoid tight-fitting slacks and undergarments as they increase the heat and moisture to the vaginal area which allows yeast to grow
- Eat yogurt that contains live Lactobacillus organisms
- Avoid feminine sprays, talcs or perfumes in your vaginal area as they affect the balance among the microorganisms in your vagina
- Do not douche unless instructed by your physician
- Wipe your vaginal area from front to back after using the toilet
- Limit your sugar intake if you have diabetes
- Use a nonprescription antifungal medication for yeast infections as directed
- Eat yogurt
- Avoid excessive cleaning of your vaginal area. Wash once a day with plain water or a mild soap
- Do not use tampons while using a topical treatment for a yeast infection
WHEN TO CALL A PHYSICIAN
- If you develop lower abdominal pain
- If you develop a fever greater than 101 degrees along with symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection
- If you are not sure you have a yeast infection
- If home treatment fails within 3 or 4 days
- If you are using antifungal creams repeatedly
- If you are pregnant
- If symptoms return within 2 months and you have not been taking antibiotics If you plan to see a doctor, do not douche, use vaginal creams or have sexual intercourse for 48 hours before your appointment as your problem will be more difficult to diagnose.
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