Yeast Infection
Although you can’t completely avoid getting yeast infections, there are certain things you can do to lower your risks.

A vaginal yeast infection is not regarded as a sexually transmitted infection. However, the first regular sexual activity carries a higher risk of vaginal yeast infection.

Additionally, some evidence suggests that oral-to-genital contact (oral-genital sex) might cause infections.

What is candida infection?

Candida is a type of yeast that frequently lives and grows on bodies and is part of the fungus family. For instance, it can be discovered in the mouth, genitalia, intestinal tract, and skin. 

Candida typically does not cause any issues. However, if it gets out of control, it can cause candidiasis.

There are three types of candida infections:

  1. Oropharyngeal candidiasis (thrush): An infection develops when candida yeast invades the mouth and throat. It most frequently affects older individuals, newborns, and people with compromised immune systems. It is more prevalent in adults who have diabetes, wear dentures, are being treated for cancer, and take corticosteroids or antibiotics.
  2. Genital candidiasis: Three out of every four female adults will get at least one yeast infection over their lives. This happens when the vaginal yeast population gets out of hand. Genital yeast infections in men are possible, but they are considerably less typical. A yeast infection frequently results when the balance in the vagina shifts. This could be caused by pregnancy, diabetes, a compromised immune system, wearing a wet bath suit, or using vaginal sprays.
  3. Invasive candidiasis: If candida yeast gets into the bloodstream (often through medical devices or equipment), it can infect the heart, brain, blood, eyes, and bones. This could lead to a harmful infection that could even be fatal. The people who encounter this most frequently are those who have just been admitted to a hospital or live in a healthcare facility, such as a nursing home. Like other types of yeast infections, your risk of getting it increases if you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, kidney failure, or are taking antibiotics.

What are the signs and symptoms of candida infection?

Signs and symptoms of oral candidiasis

  • White spots on the inner cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and throat
  • Redness and cracking at the mouth's corners
  • Loss of taste
  • Redness or pain
  • Cotton-like feeling in the mouth
  • Discomfort when swallowing or eating

Signs and symptoms of vaginal candidiasis

  • Vaginal and vulvar itchiness and irritation
  • Burning feeling, particularly during sexual activity or during urinating
  • Genital rash
  • Watery vaginal bleed
  • Thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

Signs and symptoms of invasive candidiasis

How to avoid candida infections

Although not everyone can avoid getting yeast infections, here's what you can do to lower your odds.

  • Wear comfortable underwear. Cotton underwear is the best option because heat and moisture are not retained by it, which will help you keep dry.
  • Douches and other “feminine hygiene products” might upset the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina. They eliminate some of the healthy bacteria that are meant to prevent infections. Avoid using scented feminine products. This includes tampons, pads, sprays, soaps, and bubble baths.
  • Make sure your underwear, yoga pants, tights, pantyhose, and other clothing are not excessively tight. They may raise your body temperature and add more dampness to the area surrounding your intimate organs. This increases your risk of developing a yeast infection.
  • Control diabetes. Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and keep them under control if you have them.
  • Do not wear your wet garments. After swimming or working out at the gym, avoid sitting in wet swimwear or workout attire. Change into dry clothing immediately.
  • Consume yogurt with live cultures to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your system, which helps it regulate yeast.
  • Only use antibiotics if necessary. Because they are ineffective against viruses, you do not require them for ailments, such as a cold.
  • When you are on your period, change your pads, tampons, and panty liners frequently.

SLIDESHOW

Bacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments See Slideshow

What are the treatment options for candida infection?

Oral candidiasis

Antifungal drugs are frequently used to treat candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus. For mild to moderate mouth or throat infections, an antifungal medication is often applied to the interior of the mouth for 7 to 14 days. These drugs include miconazole, clotrimazole, or nystatin.

Fluconazole (an antifungal drug) is the most used drug for severe infections. It works by inhibiting candida growth and can be administered intravenously or orally. Healthcare professionals may suggest an alternative antifungal if your condition does not improve after taking fluconazole. Fluconazole is frequently used as a therapy for candidiasis of the esophagus. People who cannot take fluconazole or who do not improve after taking fluconazole may benefit from using other forms of prescription antifungal medications.

Vaginal candidiasis

Your doctor may advise the following in the case of mild to moderate symptoms and infrequent episodes:

  • Short-course vaginal therapy: A yeast infection may typically be cured by taking an antifungal drug for three to seven days. Monistat 3 (miconazole) and terconazole are two antifungal drugs that are offered as creams, ointments, pills, and suppositories. Some of these medications can be purchased without a prescription.
  • Single-dose oral medication: Your doctor may advise you to take Diflucan (fluconazole 400 mg) orally one time only. If you are pregnant, oral medicine is not advised. If your symptoms are more severe, take two single doses three days apart.

Invasive candidiasis

Typically treated with an antifungal drug of a specific type and dosage depending on your age, immune system, and the location and severity of the infection. The first antifungal treatment that is typically advised for adults is an intravenous echinocandin (caspofungin, micafungin, or anidulafungin).

In some circumstances, fluconazole, amphotericin B, and other antifungal drugs could be useful.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Yeast infection (vaginal). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20379004

Candidiasis. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

What Is Candidiasis? https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/what-is-candidiasis-yeast-infection

Candidiasis. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/candidiasis/

Thrush and Other Candida Infections. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/infections/Pages/Thrush-and-Other-Candida-Infections.aspx

Candidiasis. https://sti.guidelines.org.au/sexually-transmissible-infections/candidiasis/

Treatment for Invasive Candidiasis. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/invasive/treatment.html