What is Candidiasis?

Confused? Is it Candida, Fungi, Yeast or Candidiasis?

Fungi is a biological group of organisms that include yeasts, molds and fungi – meaning that yeast is fungi  but not all fungi are yeast. Candida is a group name for this type of yeast. It is normal to find Candida on human skin. Candidiasis (which I really think should be spelled candidaitis*) is (so far as I can tell) a term that means than candida has turned into a disease. Candidiasis is also technically known as candidosis, moniliasis, and oidiomycosis.

Candida albicans is part of the normal flora of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, gastrointestinal (gut or intestinal flora), and female genital tracts. In healthy people it causes neither irritation or disease until it changes form and starts to overgrow.

Candida Albicans

  • a yeast or single cell form
  • a cell wall deficient form
  • a colony of cells or mycelium
  • a chlamydospore or cyst like form

Candida yeast can exist in the above  four forms : The single cell form is normal. Candida Albicans is the most common disease causing species of yeast in our body.

Candidiasis

Candidiasis
Image via Wikipedia

There are over 150 species of Candida such as Candida tropicalis, Candida glabrata, Candida pseudotropicalis, Candida guillermondii,Candida krusei,  Candida lusitaniae, Candida parapsolis, Candida dubliniensis, – that can cause disease, especially if the immune system is weakened.

NB. Blue links on this page lead to wikipedia descriptions. On the Candida page you will see a list on the right of various different species of Candida, many of which have pages of their own.

Candida is not a disease as such. It can get out of hand however as Candidiasis or yeast overgrowth and that can disrupt the body’s normal functioning and lead to disease.

If yeast overgrowth escapes from the intestinal tract, it can invade virtually any organ of the body, including the blood, the lungs, bones, kidney, liver, eyes and brain. Candida bloodstream infections are called candidemia. In very severe infections, systemic candidiasis, people with low immune systems can die from a fatally high fever such as Candida meningitis.

There are treatments for systemic candidiasis. However, yeast overgrowth is difficult to test for as pockets of yeast can hide almost invisibly. Risk of contracting the systemic form of candidiasis is mostly confined to immune compromised infants or the aged, or to patients with AIS conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or HIV, who have weak immune systems.

Thrush and Tinea

Most people who have yeast infections have external or superficial yeast infections in the mouth, in the vagina and on the skin. Oral candidiasis or thrush in the mouth and common in elderly denture wearers, is called oropharyngeal candidiasis and vaginal thrush is called vulvovaginal candidiasis. Nappy Rash may be caused by Candida.

Athletes foot or Tinea is a common fungal infection, as is jock itch in males. People also get fungal infections under their nails called onychomycosis . Vaginal yeast infections in women are common after taking a course of antibiotics but regardless of gender, prolonged antibiotic use increases your risk of a yeast infection.

If people get a yeast overgrowth in their intestinal tract, their symptoms may not be specific enough to diagnose yeast overgrowth. The candida may penetrate the GI mucosa, damaging the gut walls and leading to IBS. More symptoms may include fatigue, achy joints, sleep disturbance, brain fog, bladder and bowel disruption, increase of allergies and sensitivity to foods and chemicals.

In healthy people, yeast infections can be cured with topical or systemic antifungal medications you can buy from the chemist  such as the topical creams clotrimazole, nystatin  and  ketoconazole. A one-time dose of fluconazole (150-mg tablet taken orally) is reported as being 90% effective in treating a vaginal yeast infection.

In most cases of Thrush the yeast overgrowth is treated with a cream and subsides in a few days to a fortnight. A single dose fluconazole tablet is a one day alternative treatment to the cream. Both generally work quickly and effectively. In severe infections amphotericin B, caspofungin, or voriconazole may be prescribed.

When Treatment Doesn’t Work

However sometimes these treatments don’t work. Perhaps this is because the yeast has adapted to the treatment and it no longer works. Or because the form of candida is not susceptible to it, such as Candida glabrata that may be less susceptible to the currently used azole antifungal treatment.

Then we start guessing as it gets more complicated from here.

The hospital doctors are aware of resistant candida, but by the time you’re in hospital with this, your other disease will be more important to them. General practice doctors are resistant to believing candida can be a major problem.

The treatment of candida now becomes a matter of opinion. The best is subjective – trial and error via anecdote such as discussions in forums. And website information from doctors – although some of these may be somewhat biased towards specific remedies.

Notes

 *  -itis

  1. Suffix denoting diseases characterized by inflammation, often caused by an infection.
  2. (humorous) Used to form the names of various fictitious afflictions or diseases.

3 thoughts on “What is Candidiasis?”

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  2. I am impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I encounter a blog thats both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your article is important; the issue is something that not a lot of people are speaking intelligently about.

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