Candida albicans is the most common and virulent fungus that causes candidiasis or yeast infection in humans. This article provides information on its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of this infection.
There are 20 species of Candida yeast that can cause infection in humans. Candida albicans, also known as monilia, is a fungus that inhabits the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. In about 80 percent cases, it lives in the human body without causing any harmful effects. However, an uncontrolled growth of this yeast can lead to candidiasis moniliasis (or simply candidiasis) or yeast infection. Candidiasis is most common among individuals who have a compromised immune system, which is why people affected by AIDS, cancer, and those who have undergone bone marrow transplantation are at a greater risk. Other risk factors of this infection include pregnancy, obesity, and frequent exposure to moist conditions.
This yeast infection can cause many diseases; ranging from mild subcutaneous infections to serious infections of the throat, esophagus, intestine, and heart. One of the major reasons is the frequent use of antibiotics that destroys the microbial balance of the intestine, thus allowing the overgrowth of monilia. Many a time, this yeast infection occurs without any significant reason.
This infection is known by different names, based on the area of infection. For example, if growth of monilia is in the mouth, it is called oral thrush; whereas, infection in the vagina is referred to as vaginitis. Monilia may cause scaly skin rash and onychomycosis in nails. This fungus has the potential to survive in the bloodstream and affect the vital organs.
The symptoms differ based on the severity and location of the infection. Given below are the signs associated with each infection:
- Skin infections are characterized by inflammation, redness, rough, and scaly skin.
- Vaginitis results in inflammation and itching of the vaginal wall, which may be accompanied with white or yellow discharge.
- Onychomycosis results in red, painful, and smelly nails, along with pus formation around the affected nails.
- Candidiasis in the penis leads to inflammation (balanitis).
- The overgrowth of monilia in the kidney often results in bloody urine.
- In the heart, this yeast can cause damage to the valves and heart tissues.
- The yeast infection in the lungs may result in bloody sputum.
- In case of infection in the eyes, pain and blurred vision are commonly observed.
One of the severe cases of monilia is infection in the brain, which can lead to seizure and brain tumors. The person may also experience confusion, mood changes, memory loss, and other behavioral changes.
The diagnosis of monilia is based on the symptoms, physical examination, and medical history of the person. If necessary, the physician may conduct laboratory tests such as biopsy, blood test, and culturing of the blood and/or wound. After correct diagnosis, the physician may prescribe certain treatment options.
Depending upon the area or type of infection, the physician may recommend the use of antifungal topical creams, antifungal oral medications, or intravenous injections. For effective treatment, one can follow Candida cleanse therapy. One should not consume food items that are rich in refined sugar, as it enhances the growth of fungus. Vinegar, as well as other fermented food products should be avoided. It is always advisable to consult a qualified physician before opting for any treatment option.
In order to prevent monilia, it is necessary to follow general hygiene and cleanliness tips. For preventing skin infections, the skin should be kept clean and dry. An individual affected by other skin disorders is susceptible to overgrowth of this yeast. In case of evident signs of candidiasis, one should consult a qualified physician so as to prevent further complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.