What is Candida

What is Candida? More Commonly known as Thrush or A Yeast Infection

What may arguably be the most commonly encountered yeast infection or form of candida is often referred to as thrush.  and they are caused in human beings by a genus of fungi called Candida. Yeast infections affect either gender in certain specific areas of the human body. It is more common for women especially when it affects the female genitalia.

Thrush
Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Yeast infections affect the skin or mucous- membrane areas,  It appears in laboratory-cultured agar plates as large, round colonies colored white, cream or whitish-gray. The image here shows a severe case  of thrush in a mouth with the unmistakeable white plates.

The most commonly known species of yeast overgrowth is called Candida Albicans, although Candida albicans is not the only species that causes yeast infections in human beings. It is thought there may be several hundred varieties.

Candida albicans in a normal quantity generally lives harmoniously with other flora in the human body, its growth kept in check by other bacteria. But it thrives in warm, wet areas of the body. This is why yeast infections are found in mucous membrane areas such as the mouth and the vagina. It also likes human skin, particularly  sections that are prone to sweat such as the skin folds around the genitalia, under the breasts and armpits, and between the toes. In extremely severe cases it can also infect the blood, the bowel and intestines and other interior areas.

So what actually causes yeast infection? First, the human body’s temperature must be at a specific level and the pH levels must be balanced, two of the conditions necessary for Candida albicans and its partner bacteria to grow without disturbing other flora. But when the body temperature and pH levels change, these controlling bacteria die. This leaves the Candida albicans cells free to replicate and turn into fungi with no control over themselves.

Thrush causes burning or prickly sensations, with soreness, itching, tingling and sometimes numbness.  The yeast overgrowth also causes specific symptoms in afflicted areas. To name a few, yeast infections create white or cream-colored patches inside the mouth, reaching as far as the soft palate. They can cause digestion problems and make bowel movements difficult. Afflicted penises have patchy sores near the head or on the foreskin. Candidiasis may  also be responsible for discharges from the ear, the bowels (in the stool) and the genitalia.

Other symptoms may include fatigue, drowsiness, muscle aches, pain or swelling in the joints, dizziness, fluid retention, tissue swelling, loss of balance, lack of coordination, lack of concentration, poor memory, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability. The yeasts feed on sugar so you may experience cravings for sugars, carbohydrates and alcohol.

But as these are also common symptoms for other sicknesses, this must be taken into consideration alongside more reliable indicators. A medical diagnosis should be made before treatment is started. If the infection is around the genitalia you may need to go to a sexual disease centre even though candida is not generally considered as a std. The clinic will however have the necessary staff to protect your privacy when the practitioner examines you.

Yeast infections can have serious, sometimes even fatal, consequences if they proliferate inside the body. This is particularly true for sufferers with weakened immune systems, diabetes, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Long term treatment is often required and sometimes no cure is possible, only management of the infection.

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