In order to run optimally, the human body requires a lot of different processes to occur. Vitamins, nutrients, fungus, and bacteria are just a few of the things that live inside the body for the sole purpose of keeping all its systems operating at their best.
Candida is one such fungus, found particularly in the mouth or on the skin. Candida’s main purpose is to keep the digestive system balanced. It also acts as a helper for the immune system, giving it the tools it needs to ward off infections and help the body absorb essential minerals and vitamins. Overgrowth of candida can be a bad thing, though, and when there is too much of this yeast, it leads to a condition called Candidiasis. So what is Candidiasis, exactly? And how do you test for Candidiasis?
What are the signs and symptoms of Candidiasis?
When the yeast that makes up candida multiplies too quickly because of a lack of good bacteria in the body keeping it balanced, it leads to an overgrowth. This overgrowth can cause a variety of different conditions that are both uncomfortable and bad for the proper overall function of the body. Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is when the overgrowth occurs in the throat and mouth. Thrush can lead to soreness in the mouth/throat area, pain, and discoloration in the form of white or yellow patches all over the inside of the mouth.
A genital yeast infection can also occur, mostly in women, leading to itchiness, redness and swelling of the genital area, burning during urination, and a thick discharge. Although men can experience the infection along with an itchy rash on their genital area, it affects women in most cases. Diaper rash is also attributed to an overgrowth of the candida bacteria.
Invasive Candidiasis is a condition that occurs when the overgrowth of the candida manages to get inside the bloodstream. This condition can be life-threatening and is generally attributed to a recent visit to health care facility, as it is most likely to be transferred into the bloodstream through the use of medical equipment. Invasive Candidiasis will present with fever, chills, confusion, hypotension, and pain in the area of the infection.
How do you test for Candidiasis?
Testing for an overgrowth of Candidiasis can be quite simple. Your doctor may take a swab sample of the area and send it off to a lab for confirmation that there is an overgrowth prior to treatment. Because the overgrowth of candida can mimic other conditions (especially in the case of yeast infections), it’s important to be sure that the symptoms are being caused by Candidiasis prior to treatment.
If Invasive Candidiasis is suspected, more thorough testing will need to be performed. This often comes in the way of a blood test. Invasive Candidiasis is hard to diagnose because the symptoms range from mild to severe, and can often appear as other conditions, especially if the patient is already suffering from another ailment.
What is the treatment for Candidiasis?
All forms of candida overgrowth can be treated by antifungal medications, but not all forms of the medication are the same. For a yeast infection, an oral or suppository antifungal tablet is usually taken to help clear up the overgrowth, while a topical cream is then applied to help combat some of the uncomfortable symptoms. For women who experience chronic yeast infections (four or more per year), a yearly dose of fluconazole may be prescribed as a preemptive treatment. Diaper rash is treated with antifungal cream and can be prevented by carrying out proper diaper hygiene (ensuring the baby’s bottom is clean and dry at all times).
To treat thrush, other antifungal medications will need to be taken, such as nystatin, clotrimazole, or fluconazole. These come in the form of tablets and are designed to help treat the condition from the inside out. When it comes to Invasive Candidiasis, the treatment is much more in-depth because of the seriousness of the condition. Antifungal medications may need to be taken intravenously to help combat the overgrowth in the bloodstream, but oral doses may be used as well.
What is the link between Candidiasis and Lyme disease?
For people who suffer from preexisting conditions such as Lyme disease, an overgrowth of the candida bacteria can be serious. People with Lyme disease are especially susceptible to an overgrowth of the candida bacteria because of the strong antibiotics course they need to take to rid themselves of the Lyme bacteria.
When the antibiotics are sent into the body to help clear up the bad bacteria, it also can take out a lot of the good bacteria that keeps yeast levels in check and contributes to a healthy gut flora. When that balance is disrupted, it gives yeast the perfect opportunity to thrive, causing Candidiasis. When people with Lyme disease have an overgrowth of candida, it compromises their already weakened immune system, making it harder to ward off further infection.