Candida overgrowth is the most common type of yeast infection that occurs from an overgrowth of yeast, which is a type of fungus. This medical condition is also known as candidiasis, thrush, candidosis, moniliasis or oidiomycosis. The infection is usually caused by Candida albicans species of the Candida genus. As the name suggests, these fungi normally live on all surfaces on human bodies. However, under certain conditions, these fungi can become so widespread they cause infections. The infections are especially common in warm and moist areas of the body, where fungi grow and thrive.
Causes of Candida overgrowth
The normally functioning human immune system regulates the balance of microorganisms, which occupy certain areas of the body. Antibiotic and steroid use is the most common reason for yeast overgrowth. However, people who have a weakened immune system are more prone to yeast infections. It is estimated that almost 15% of people with damaged immune systems develop a systemic illness caused by Candida. People who frequently use antibiotics are also at a higher risk, because antibiotics destroy all kinds of bacteria, and some of them are actually beneficial for overall health, as they keep Candida overgrowth under control. Various hormonal changes, such as those in pregnancy, during menstruation, or while using birth control pills, can also contribute to Candida overgrowth. Certain medical conditions, especially diabetes mellitus, are linked to an increased incidence of yeast infections. Other medical conditions associated with candidiasis are HIV/AIDS, mononucleosis, cancer treatments, steroids, stress and nutrient deficiency.
Symptoms of Candida overgrowth
Signs and symptoms of candidiasis depend on the severity and the location of the infection. In many cases, Candida overgrowth manifests as redness, itching and discomfort. However, this may also be a serious disease with fatal consequences, especially if the patient already has a compromised immune system.
If the infection occurs in the mouth, it is called thrush. Thrush is characterized by white patches that form all over the mouth. The patches look like milk cruds and when they are whipped away, the underlying tissue may bleed. Vaginal yeast infection is normally characterized by white cheesy discharge, irritation and itching. The woman may feel discomfort both in the vagina and at surrounding tissues.
If a patient has a weak immune system, Candida overgrowth can affect any of the internal organs and lead to serious health problems. People suffering from AIDS commonly get yeast infection in their upper gastrointestinal systems.If the infection gets into the bloodstream, it can cause systemic Candida infections or spread to the brain and cause temporary changes in mental functions or behavior.Prevention of Candida overgrowth
The best way to prevent Candida overgrowth is to keep the immune system strong and active. The main preventable causes of Candidiasis are: misuse or overuse of antibiotics, deficient diet, exposure to germs, stress, sedentary lifestyle and others. To prevent candidiasis one should avoid processed foods, especially those containing sugars. Antibiotics are beneficial but only if used in moderation and according to the doctor’s instructions. Any kind of misuse will destroy the body’s natural flora and make one prone to yeast infections.