What is Candida?

What is the Definition of Candida?

Thrush is a yeast infection also known as candida, candidosis, or candidiasis. It's a type of fungus that lives in small amounts in your mouth, tummy, your skin and gut, without creating any issues. However, with the correct conditions, candida fungus can multiply and start to cause issues.

Candidiasis can appear in different forms. The most common disturbances with the overgrowth of the Candida fungus will show in women whereby the following symptoms occur. The majority of them are treatable with over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

Causes of Candida

The overall cause of any type of Candida infection is caused due to the overgrowth of the yeast. There are various circumstances that can alter a healthy balance of yeast and bacteria. 

Overgrowth of yeast can be associated with - 

  • Antibiotic usage disrupts the normal flora of the vaginal cavity.
  • Immune system impairment
  • Using estrogen-stimulating oral contraceptives or hormone therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Sexual activity

Symptoms of Candida

Candida symptoms in women can include: 

  • White vaginal discharge (often smelling like cottage cheese), 
  • Itching and discomfort around the vagina
  • Stinging during intercourse or after peeing.

Candida symptoms in men can include:

  • Irritation, burning, and redness around the head of the penis 
  • White discharge under the foreskin (like cottage cheese) 
  • Pulling back the foreskin can be difficult

Thrush (candida) can spread to other parts of the body, including the armpits, groin, and between the fingers. This usually results in a red, itchy, or painful rash that scales over and discharges white or yellow. On darker skin, the rash may be less visible.

In some cases, Candida (thrush) might present with no symptoms at all.

Types of Candida 

Candida Albicans 

Candida albicans is a common part of the human gut flora and an opportunistic pathogenic yeast. It is also capable of surviving outside of the human body. In 40–60% of healthy adults, it is found in the gastrointestinal system and mouth.

Some factors, such as a long course of antibiotics or a weakened immune system, can raise your chances of contracting a candida infection.

Oropharyngeal Candidiasis

Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth that causes white spots or patches. White spots or patches on your tongue, inside your cheeks, gums, and throat are signs of oral thrush.

Anti-fungal mouth gel is mainly used to treat oral thrush. If your child is under the age of four months and has signs of oral thrush, see your doctor.

Genital Yeast Infection (Genital Candidiasis)

Yeast infections affect three out of every four adult women at some point in their lives. This occurs when the vaginal yeast population becomes too large. Genital yeast infections can also affect men, although they are considerably less frequent.

The infection can sometimes be passed from one person to another during sexual activities. It can also be triggered by sex but not passed over, as it thrives in a moist and warm environment.1

Invasive Candidiasis

Candida can cause infection by entering the bloodstream circulation or internal organs. The most prevalent form of invasive candidiasis is a Candida bloodstream infection, often known as candidemia.

People who have recently been admitted to a hospital or who live in a healthcare facility, such as a nursing home, are the most likely to experience this. If you have diabetes, a weaker immune system, kidney failure, or are on antibiotics, your chances of acquiring a yeast infection are higher.

Invasive candidiasis can be treated using anti-fungal treatment. Anti-fungal medicine may be given to individuals with cancer, bone marrow or organ transplants to prevent invasive candidiasis

Some of the symptoms can include fever and chills. 

Candida and Your Gut

Candida overgrowth in the gut can aggravate existing gastrointestinal conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

The signs and symptoms differ depending on which body area is affected. Candida in the gut can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Pain in abdomen 
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea 

To avoid the overgrowth of Candida in the gut, it is frequently recommended to do a Candida cleanse which is a diet that eliminates sugar, white flour, yeast, and cheese.

Another alternative for this could be to take probiotics to balance out the bacteria in the gut back to a healthy flora. All treatment options should be consulted on with a medical professional.  

Treatments & Remedies for Candida

Anti-fungal medication prescribed by a doctor, pharmacy, or sexual health clinic is usually the most effective in treating thrush. This usually clears up within a week or two. 

Other treatments/remedies to help with your symptoms include:

  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Cut down on carbohydrates
  • Where possible, opt for gluten free options
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Try probiotics for at least a month
  • Use emollients such as E45 cream to wash affected area
  • Avoid sex until thrush is all cleared up
  • Avoid tight underwear 

The Bottom Line

Overall, Candidiasis is a fungus infection caused by the Candida yeast (a type of fungus). Candida albicans is the most prevalent Candida species that can cause infection in humans.

Candida can survive on the skin and inside the body, in locations including the mouth, throat, gut, and vaginal canal, without creating difficulties. It is quite easily treated, and fairly common so there is lots of information to be found online, and via your doctor/pharmacist. 

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