Candidal Infections - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology
What Is Candida Albicans?
Candida albicansis a species of yeast — a single-celled fungus — that's a normal part of the microbes that live in your gastrointestinal tract.
Small amounts of the yeast also live in various warm, moist areas throughout the body, including the mouth, rectum, vagina, and parts of your skin.
Its numbers are naturally kept in check by the bacteria and other microorganisms that make up your microbiome, the community of microorganisms that inhabit your body.
However, different factors can throw off your microbial balance, tipping the scales in favor ofC. albicansand allowing the fungus to grow out of control and cause a yeast infection called candidiasis.
These factors include:
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Though it causes about 90 percent of yeast infections,Candida albicansis not the only species from theCandidagenus that lives in the body.
Other common species includeC. glabrata,C. parapsilosis,C. tropicalis, andC. krusei.
Some studies estimate that about 20 percent of asymptomatic, healthy women haveCandidaliving in their vaginas (though some estimates place that number much higher, at 80 percent), according to a June 2007 report in the journalThe Lancet.
ButC. albicanscomprises 85 to 95 percent of theCandidayeast strains isolated from the vagina, the report notes.
These fungi make their way into the vagina from the anus.
An overgrowth ofC. albicans(or otherCandidaspecies) in the vagina causes a yeast infection, also known as candida vaginitis or vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Common symptoms include:
Vaginal yeast infections are typically treated with antifungal creams or suppositories purchased over-the-counter (OTC) or through prescription.
Most yeast infections resolve within a few days after treatment starts.
Thrush and Invasive Candidiasis
Candida albicansis a very common fungus found in the mouth of people of all ages.
For instance, the fungus lives in the mouths of 30 to 45 percent of healthy adults, according to a report in thePostgraduate Medical Journal.
Despite this prevalence, an oral infection byC. albicans, which is called thrush or oral candidiasis, is not very common in the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Thrush mainly affects the very young, the old, and people with weakened immune systems (including people using steroids).
Symptoms of thrush include creamy white sores in the mouth, including on the tongue, inner cheeks, and gums, and pain during swallowing.
If a mild thrush infection develops after antibiotic use, consuming probiotics or yogurt with active cultures, or taking over-the-counterLactobacillus acidophilus(a beneficial bacteria) pills, may be all that's required, as these treatments help restore the normal balance of microbes in the mouth.
More serious infections require antifungal medications, including special mouthwashes and lozenges.
Video: Candida albicans
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