What Is A Yeast Infection?

In this discussion, I’ll be answering the question: “what is a yeast infection”. I will also give you some few ways or potions you have to treat and get rid of this infection once and for all.

You have to know what “Yeast” is, before trying to know What a Yeast Infection is

Yeast refers to a type of microscopic organism which together with other organisms like mushrooms forms a category of living things known as fungi. It is important to note that the term ‘Yeast’ does not actually refer to one specific micro organism. In fact, there are currently about 1500 species of yeast described by scientists. Yeasts are unicellular organisms which vary greatly in size, ranging from 34 to 40 micrometers in diameter.

Throughout history, man has interacted with yeast in various ways:

• One notable species of yeast, known as Saccharomyces cerevisae has enabled man to produce various goods such as bread and wine, through the process of fermentation.

• However, yeast has also played a role in some of the infections found in man. One such species of yeast is known by its scientific name as Candida albicans and it is responsible for infections in warm, moist areas of the human body, commonly known as yeast infections. This specific type of yeast will be the focus of this article.

Yeast cells are normally present on warm moist surfaces of the human body such as:

- Moist skin found in the under arms.
- Under folds of skin.
- The mouth as well as a woman’s vagina.

They are usually relatively low in number and hence do not bring about any symptoms. However, due to certain factors, the yeast cells may multiply rapidly and thus the condition develops to a fully fledged yeast infection, a condition referred to in medical terms as candidiasis.

What condition promotes the growth of yeast?

Some of these factors include changes in the skin, mouth or vaginal environment or injuries in these regions. The environmental conditions that promote growth of yeast include:

a) Increased pH.
b) Increased heat or moisture
c) Increased sugar levels.
d) Allergic reactions.
e) Hormonal fluxes and a reduction in the population of bacteria normally present in the vaginal area.

Depending on which part of the body they affect, the yeast infections can be categorized into 3 main groups:

1. Oral yeast infections.
2. Skin yeast infections.
3. Vaginal yeast infections.

Yeast infections affect both children and adults. However, it is commonly reported in women who are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or are between the ages of 30 and 50 years. In children and babies, yeast infections may occur in the mouth and diaper areas.

Oral yeast infections, commonly known as thrush, come about as a result of infection of tissues in the oral cavity. It can also occur around dentures (artificial teeth). Adults become more prone to oral yeast infections as they age, because of their weakening immune system.

On the skin, a yeast infection may occur in the warm, moist areas such as under arms and skin folds under the breast or lower abdomen and nail beds (the skin beneath the nails). The skin normally blocks yeasts effectively but any cuts or openings on the skin may allow the yeast to penetrate.

What is A vaginal yeast infection?

A few yeast cells are normally found in a healthy woman’s vagina, along with number of bacteria cells. The most common bacteria species found in the vagina is known as Lactobacillus acidophilus and these bacteria help to control the population of other micro organisms, like yeast. It is estimated that 20%-50% of healthy women have yeast present in their vaginal area. As such, it must be emphasized that presence of yeast cells in the vaginal area does not signify that one has a vaginal yeast infection. A vaginal yeast infection is the most common cause of vaginitis, a condition in women which is characterized by inflammation of the vagina.

What relation dose yeast infection have with sexual intercourse?

On rare occasions, a person may contract candidiasis by having sexual intercourse with an infected person. For example, a man may contract candidiasis after having sex with an infected partner. He may then suffer from skin irritation on the head of his penis. It is important to note though, that candidiasis is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This is because Candida albicans cells can be naturally found in the body of a child or a celibate adult. Being infected with the HIV virus is also another factor which may lead to rapid multiplication of yeast cells, and hence resulting in a yeast infection. This is due to the weakened immune system of a HIV patient. Other diseases which can bring about candidiasis are diabetes and leukemia.

Diagnosing and treating a yeast infection

A yeast infection can be diagnosed by a doctor once the signs and symptoms appear. The disease can then be treated using anti fungal medicines. The medication is usually given orally or intra-vaginally. The treatment normally takes between 4 to 5 days but can take much longer, depending on the severity of the condition. Once treated, the yeast infection may clear up for good or recur after sometime.

Rarely, the yeast infection may spread throughout the body, for example through the blood stream and about 45% of patients with this complication die.

Even common mouth and vaginal yeast infections may be resistant to normal treatment. Recurring yeast infections may come about because of the lifestyle or habits of the person or could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition like diabetes, leukemia or HIV/AIDS.

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