Yeast infection is an annoying condition, especially for women, who get it frequently. Here is a brief overview about the condition and its causes.
Yeast (candida) is a fungus that can live anywhere, including the human body. In normal conditions, the immune system of the human body controls multiplication of yeast. Once the immune system becomes weak, the yeast starts multiplying, thereby causing infections. Usually, such infections develop on the warm and moist parts of the body, like the mouth, esophagus, rectum, vagina, etc. Both men and women are prone to this condition, but yeast infection is more common in females, in the form of vaginal candidiasis caused by Candida albicans. Even children are not spared, as their immune system is weak, as compared to adults. However, recurrent yeast infections are common among women. According to statistics, almost 75% of women are affected by candidiasis or yeast infection, at least once during their lifetime; and 40% of them experience recurrent infections.
The basic cause for vaginal yeast infection is a change in the vaginal environment, which is normally acidic in nature. Human body maintains a healthy balance of fungi and bacteria. Changes in the vaginal acid balance may lead to candida overgrowth in the area, leading to infection. The following are some of the main causes of recurrent yeast infections.
- Antibiotics and yeast infection are linked, as the former can cause or aggravate this condition. Antibiotics destroy the beneficial bacteria in the vagina, that control the multiplication of fungi. Once the bacteria are destroyed, fungi multiplies, thereby causing yeast infection.
- Another reason is the hormonal changes in females during pregnancy and menstruation.
- Diseases, like diabetes, insulin intolerance, and HIV/AIDS, are also considered as reasons for the fungal growth, and the resultant infection in the vagina.
- High intake of sugar and refined foods may also lead to recurring yeast infections.
- It has also been observed that stress and lack of sleep are among the possible causes of repeated yeast infections in women.
- It is believed that the fungus strains develop resistance to the drugs used by the affected person. Thus the drugs become ineffective in controlling and eliminating the infection.
All these factors can contribute to repeated yeast infections. However, a weak immune system is considered as the basic underlying cause. Such infections can also be experienced by women who use oral contraceptives regularly. Those who wear tight undergarments made of nylon or Lycra, are also prone to this condition, as these fabrics trap moisture and heat. Regular use of commercial douches is also linked to yeast infection.
Symptoms and Treatment
The most common symptoms of yeast infection are burning sensation and itching in the vagina. In order to be classified as recurrent yeast infections, a person must get affected for more than four times a year. Severe cases are also characterized by tender and sore rashes on the infected area. In some cases, the condition can be painful, and the vaginal discharge can be thick, whitish, and foul-smelling. While infrequent vaginal candidiasis can be successfully treated with topical therapy, recurrent infections need personalized treatment based on the underlying cause. Antifungal medication are usually used for treating recurrent yeast infections.
It is better to avoid use of oral contraceptive pills, and excessive consumption of sugary and starchy foods. A balanced diet a regular exercise regimen may also prove beneficial. Intake of probiotics is also said to be useful for countering yeast infections. You can also go in for some over-the-counter medicines or home remedies. However, it is always advisable to consult your health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.