Yeast Infection

Yeast infection, commonly known as candidiasis, is one of the most frequently met condition women suffer from. Although not being a disease that raises serious concerns, yeast infection can affect a woman’s well being, causing unpleasant sensations around the vaginal area, and affecting sex life as well. The topic is vast, and to prevent this condition from appearing, or to act accordingly we candida does develop, women should be properly informed on the topic. This article presents the ins and outs of yeast infections.

 

Yeast Infection Overview & Facts

Yeast is described as a fungus that usually lives in small numbers in the vagina. A healthy vagina can have some yeast cells and bacteria, but when the balance between these two changes, the yeast cells can start to multiply. Genital Candidiasis, vaginal candidiasis and vulvovaginal candidiasis are other terms used to refer to yeast infection. The fungus that is the most frequently associated with a yeast infection is Candida albicans, being accountable for somewhere around 92 percent of cases. When the fungus is permitted to multiply unchecked, that is the moment when a yeast infection appears. Although these fungi can be found all over the body, they are usually present in moist and humid areas. According to studies, even 50 percent of women can carry yeast in the vaginal area, without experiencing any symptoms. If the C albicans multiplies until it causes an infection, the patient will start dealing with irritation, unpleasant odor, vaginal inflammation, and discharge.  Because this condition is extremely common, more than 70 percent of women develop it at least once in their lifetime.

 

Yeast Infection Symptoms

Women can easily conclude that they are confronted with a yeast infection, the signs being noticeable, recognizable and persistent. The symptoms can, in most situations range from mild to moderate, and they include:

  • Irritation in the vagina as well as around the tissues of the vulva (vaginal opening), which will cause an unpleasant itching sensation.
  • A burning sensation that can persist constantly, but becomes more intense during sexual intercourse and when urinating.
  • Vaginal rashes
  • Pain and soreness in the vaginal area
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • White, order less, clumpy, thick vaginal discharge, easy to notice due to its strange consistency.
  • Red skin around the labia
  • Pain during intercourse

 

Yeast Infection Complications

If the yeast infection reaches a more severe level, a few complications can arise. Because the need of seeing a specialist intensifies when the yeast infection is a complicated one, women should be aware of the situations when this type of infection should cause more concerns.

  • The redness around the vaginal area becomes more extensive, it starts itching and swelling, leading to fissures, tears and sores
  • Experiencing the infection for more than four times during a year
  • Dealing with infection when suffering from uncontrolled diabetes
  • Developing the disease during pregnancy
  • Weakened immune system due to the consumption of various medications

 

Risk Factors – What Causes a Yeast Infection?

Because the vagina holds an environment that is in charge of maintaining its own balance of microorganisms, when something disrupts this balance, such as the fungus above mentioned, the development of a yeast infection is a normal outcome. The following factors are the ones that can cause a disruption of the vagina’s natural balance of microorganisms, and thus the development of an infection of this sort:

  • The usage of antibiotics – whether it’s a UTI, a strep throat or any other alignment that demands the usage of antibiotics, this form of medication can be the one to influence the development of a yeast infection. Antibiotics can affect a person’s entire personal ecosystem, destroying the bacteria that is protecting the vagina or altering the balance. Because these medications will kill healthy bacteria, during or after the use of antibiotics, this form of infection can appear. This is the reason why women are recommended to take probiotic supplements together with their antibiotics, to prevent the development of a vaginal infection.
  • Using steroids
  • Diabetes – this disease is known for lowering the glycogen in certain vaginal cells, and also raising the pH and sugar content of the vagina. Both of these aspects will increase the likelihood of developing yeast infection.
  • A weakened immune system – anything that affects the strength of the immune system can be a cause of this type of infection. Starting from pregnancy or steroid use and up to HIV and cancer chemotherapy, factors that weaken the immune system can also be linked to this condition in women.
  • The usage of certain feminine hygiene products – despite popular belief, using feminine hygiene products is not beneficial for the vaginal area. Although mainly used for sanitary reasons, these products contain chemicals that can make the acidity level of the vagina drop. A gentle bar soap should be the only thing that is used for cleaning that area, scented wipes, sprays, washes being unrecommended to use.
  • Inadequate underwear – tight underwear made from synthetic fabric prevent the vaginal area from breathing properly, and contribute to the creation of a moist, humid environment, encouraging yeast.
  • Hormonal changes – ovulation, pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills, hormone therapy and any other thing that causes hormonal changes increases the likelihood of a yeast infection.

 

Yeast Infection Diagnosis

Seeing a specialist and discussing about the symptoms is the first solution for those in this situation. When it comes to diagnosing a yeast infection, the doctor viewing the patients will primarily request information about the woman’s medical history, especially details about previous vaginal or sexually transmitted infections. The expert will also perform a physical and pelvic exam, while also testing the woman’s sample of vaginal discharge as well as urine. Women who see a specialist for a clear diagnosis are recommended to avoid intercourse and even douching for one or tow days, in order for the results to be more accurate, and the diagnosis process simplified. The pelvic examination involves the inspection of the cervix and vaginal canal for any soreness, discharge, tenderness or local pain. The majority of candida infections can be diagnosed without undergoing laboratory tests. The doctor may resort to taking cultural swabs of vaginal discharge, administer a pap test, recommend a colposcopy or utilize special DNA test for more extensive research. The testing of vaginal secretion can be useful to determine exactly the type of fungus that has triggered the infection, details that swill simplify the prescription of the most effective treatment.

 

Yeast Infection Treatment & Care

The treatment of yeast infection varies depending on the severity of the condition. The treatment options are divided between complicated and uncomplicated candidiasis cases.

  • Uncomplicated Yeast infection

Treating a regular yeast infection, one that does not show aggravating signs can be extremely easy, and women have the possibility of benefiting from a quick recovery. Specialists usually recommend for mild symptoms, the following solutions:

  • Short course vaginal therapy – the market offers a wide range of antifungal medications in the form of creams, tablets, ointments and suppositories. An antifungal regime, which can vary from one to seven days, will be effective in clearing an uncomplicated infection. The medication that have proven to be most effective in this department are clotrimazole, miconazole, butoconazole, and terconazole. These medications might come with a few side effects including irritation during application or a burning sensation. Specialist might also recommend the usage of a different type of birth control for women who are taking this form of pills.
  • Oral medication in a single dose – a yeast infection can also be treated, according to specialists’ opinion, through a single dose, oral medication, usually an antifungal fluconazole. In some situations, two pills will be prescribed, if the symptoms experienced are a bit more severe.
  • Over the counter treatment options – women who do not have a prescription for a yeast infection treatment can also resort to over the counter options. The market holds various creams and suppositories proven to be effective, and with no concerning side effects. Over the counter treatments are usually the safest alternative for pregnant women, and a three to seven day regime is demanded.

If the treatment does not ameliorate symptoms, or if the infection relapses in less than two months, women need to make a follow-up appointment at their doctors for further investigations, the case could potentially lead to other complications

  • Complicated yeast infection

For complicated yeast infections, the treatment requirements become a bit more extensive and might involve:

  • Long-course vaginal therapy – in comparison with the short course option, the long the long course vaginal therapy involves a prolonged regimen of azole modifications, administered from 7 to 14 days, and can provide successful clearing results. These medications come in the form of tablets, ointments, creams and suppositories.
  • Oral medication in a multidose – Two or more dozes of fluconazole might be required, which can be taken orally instead of vaginal therapy. This oral medication, however, should be avoided by pregnant women.
  • A thorough maintenance plan – for women facing recurrent infections, specialists usually recommend a maintenance plan, which involves a thorough medication routine for overgrowth and further infection prevention. The maintenance therapy should begin after a 14 day treatment. Through a maintenance plan, taking oral fluconazole tablets once a week for a few months might be needed, and some doctors prescribe a vaginal suppository as well.

A largen number of someone choose to treat their yeast infection at home, using various methods. Although in some situations, home remedies can prove to be effective, especially if the infection symptoms are mild ones, women who experience this issue for the first time, or are not 100 percent certain if they are dealing with candidiasis, being confronted with unusual symptoms, should always seek the help of a specialist.  Also, it’s important for patients to remember that for recurrent yeast infections, their partner is required to take a treatment as well, when not using condoms during intercourse.

 

Can Yeast Infection Be Prevented

Although yeast infection cannot always be prevented, its causes being multiple, there are a few things women have the possibility of doing in order to lower their chances of dealing with such an infection. The likelihood of candida can be prevent through the following guidelines:

  • Keeping the vaginal area as dry as possible, especially after taking a shower.
  • When using the toilet, the wiping should be done from front to rear.
  • The underwear used matters significantly in this department. They should be designed out of 100 percent cotton, and have a looser fitting. The right underwear will keep the vaginal area dry and also reduce irritations, which are linked to the development of an infection.
  • Swimsuits should immediately be changed after swimming.
  • It’s recommended to avoid the usage of deodorant tampons that contain chemical irritants.
  • Cleansing the vagina should be done in a regular way, without using feminine hygiene products or perfumed douches.
  • Prioritizing hygiene is key when it comes to yeast infection prevention, so women are advised to take all means of precaution in this department,

Yeast infection has become quite common among women, and this type of vaginal condition does not need to raise many concerns, being easy to treat. However, if left unattended there are a few complication that might arise, besides the unpleasant sensation linked to it. Those who spot symptoms or signs, should immediately see a gynecologist and start taking the necessary treatment, in order for the condition to not aggravate itself. Although candida might not be a dangerous or frightening disease, once the infection occurs, the chances of developing it again are very high ones, this is why women are recommended by their gynecologists to take a preventive treatment once in 6 months or once a year.

AAOM Editor

Academic Association of Medicine is the go to resource for all health related issues. We are an independent body that seeks to offer general information on various health topics and unbiased reviews on health products.

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