What is Candidiasis?
Candidiasis (yeast overgrowth) is communicable disease that is caused by infection with Candida, predominantly with Candida albicans, a fungus that represents the most common fungal pathogen affecting humans.
Under normal, healthy conditions, these micro-organisms live in various parts of the body. Certain conditions such as decrease immunity can encourage them to divide and increase in number leading to infections, particularly in warm and moist areas of the body.
How can we get infected with Candida?
The root taken for this candida invasion is as follows:
Disruption of skin or mucosa -> candida enters the bloodstream -> penetrates the gastrointestinal wall -> massive colonization that releases a large number of organisms directly into the bloodstream.
Candidiasis is the most common form of infections in immunocompromised people.
What are the risk factors for Candidiasis Infection?
Some of the risk factors for Candidiasis are:
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Solid organ transplantation such as liver and kidney
- Hematologic malignancies- cancer affecting blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes
- Foley catheters
- Solid neoplasms
- Recent chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Broad-spectrum antibiotics
Areas affected with Candidiasis:
- Moist areas- Candidiasis infections generally occur in warm, moist parts of the body, such as underarms and genitals.
- In case of newborns, it affects the mouth (oral candidiasis) and diaper areas (diaper rash).
- Vaginal candidiasis– as the name indicates, occurs in the vagina and is the most common form of vaginitis.
- Oral candidiasis – this form of infection is more common in adults. Number of incidences of oral candidiasis increases with age. These infectections can also occur around dentures, in skin folds under the breast and lower abdomen, nailbeds, and beneath other skin folds which are warm and mosit.
- Systemic candidal disease- In rare cases, some people may suffer from systemic candidal disease where the infection spreads through the blood stream. This form of candidiasis can be fatal; killing up to 45% of the infected people.
- Recurring candidiasis may be a sign of an underlying disorder such as diabetes, leukemia or AIDS.
- Yeast infection- in women, vaginal yeast infection is the most common reason for vaginal burning, itching and discharges.
- Compromised immunity- this is more common in people who are on cancer treatments, steroids or suffering from conditions such as AIDS.
- Skin cuts and abrasions- skin cuts and abrasions allow the candida to enter the blood stream directly.
- Devices- certain external devices such as catheters and IV ports.
Candidiasis Signs and symptoms:
- Vaginal candidiasis- in this condition there is thick white discharge from the vagina and itching in the surrounding area. It may be accompanied by burning urination and painful intercourse.
- Oral candidiasis- thick white patches on top of the tongue, palate or in the mouth. This is usually addressed as thrush.
- Compromised immunity- they have symptoms that are similar to thrush, but extends down the mouth to the esophagus and the tongue. This can cause painful ulcers around the GI system.