Candida albicans is a type of parasitic yeast like fungus that inhabits the intestines, genital tract, mouth, esophagus, and throat. Normally this fungus lives in healthy balance with the other bacteria and yeasts in the body; however, certain conditions can cause it to multiply, weakening the immune system and causing an infection known as candidiasis.
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The fungus can travel through the bloodstream to many parts of the body. Because candidiasis can affect various parts of the body - the most common being the mouth, ears, nose, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina - it can be characterized by many symptoms.
These include constipation, diarrhea, colitis, abdominal pain, headaches, bad breath, rectal itching, impotence, memory loss, mood swings, prostatitis, canker sores, persistent heartburn, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, congestion, nagging cough, numbness in the face or extremities, tingling sensations, acne, night sweats, severe itching, clogged sinuses, PMS, burning tongue, white spots on the tongue and in the mouth, extreme fatigue, vaginitis, kidney and bladder infections, arthritis, depression, hyper activity, hypothyroidism, adrenal problems, and even diabetes.
Symptoms often worsen in damp and/or moldy places, and after consumption of foods containing sugar and/or yeast.
Because of its many and varied symptoms, this disorder is often misdiagnosed.
When candida infects the vagina it results in vaginitis characterized by a large amount of white, cheesy discharge and intense itching and burning.
When the fungus infects the oral cavity it is called thrush. White sores may form on the tongue, gums, and inside the cheeks.
In a baby, the white spots of oral thrush may resemble milk spots.
Oral thrush in an infant can spread to the mother's nipples by breastfeeding, and can lead to a situation in which mother and baby continually reinfect each other. Thrush may also infect a baby's buttocks, appearing as a diaper rash.
Candida infection may also take the form of athlete's foot or jock itch.
It is an overgrowth of candida everywhere, throughout the body. In the most severe cases, candida can travel through the bloodstream to invade every organ system in the body, causing a type of blood poisoning called candida septicemia. This condition almost always occurs in persons with serious underlying illnesses, such as advanced cancer or AIDS.
Candidiasis may affect both men and women; however, it is rarely transmitted sexually. It is most common in babies (an infected mother may pass the fungal infection to her newborn) and in persons with compromised immune systems. Virtually all people with AIDS have some type of fungal infection.
Anyone who has been on long-term antibiotic therapy, or has taken antibiotics often, probably has an overgrowth of candida somewhere in his or her body. Antibiotics weaken the immune system and also destroy the "friendly" bacteria that normally keep candida under control. As it proliferates, the fungus releases toxins that weaken the immune system further.
Other factors that increase the chances of contracting a yeast infection include pregnancy and the use of corticosteroid drugs. Very often, allergies to foods are present in people with candida infections. Oral thrush, athlete's foot, ringworm, jock itch, fingernail or toenail fungus, and even diaper rash can develop as a result of the combination of food allergies and C. albicans. The symptoms of a food allergy or environmental sensitivity can also mimic those of candidiasis.
To further complicate matters, some people with candidiasis go on to develop environmental sensitivities as well. Many cannot tolerate contact with rubber, petroleum products, tobacco, exhaust fumes, and chemical odors.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infection or vulvovaginal candidiasis is a common cause of vaginal irritation. Doctors estimate that approximately 75 percent of all women will experience at least one symptomatic yeast infection during their lifetimes. Yeast are always present in the vagina in small numbers, and symptoms only appear with overgrowth.
Several factors are associated with increased symptomatic infection in women, including pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and the use of oral contraceptives or antibiotics.
Other factors that may increase the incidence of yeast infection include using douches, perfumed feminine hygiene sprays, and topical antimicrobial agents, and wearing tight, poorly ventilated clothing and underwear.
Whether or not yeast can be transmitted sexually is unknown. Becausealmost all women have the organism in the vagina, it has been difficult for researchers to study this aspect of the natural history.
The most frequent symptoms of yeast infection in women are itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina. Painful urination and/or intercourse are common. Vaginal discharge is not always present and may be minimal. The thick, whitish-gray discharge is typically described as cottage-cheese-like in nature, although it can vary from watery to thick in consistency.
Most male partners of women with yeast infection do not experience any symptoms of the infection. A transient rash and burning sensation of the penis, however, have been reported after intercourse if condoms were not used. These symptoms are usually self-limiting.
Because few specific signs and symptoms are usually present, this condition cannot be diagnosed by the patient's history and physical examination. The doctor usually diagnoses yeast infection through microscopic examination of vaginal secretions for evidence of yeast forms.
Scientists funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have developed a rapid simple test for yeast infection, which might be available for use in doctors offices. If such a test were available for home screening, it would help them to appropriately use yeast medication.
Other Causes of Vaginitis
Although most vaginal infections in women are due to bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or yeast, there may be other causes as well. These causes may include allergic and irritative factors or other STDs. Non infectious allergic symptoms can be caused by spermicides, vaginal hygiene products, detergents, and fabric softeners.
Cervical inflammation from these products often is associated with abnormal vaginal discharge, but can be distinguished from true vaginal infections by appropriate diagnostic tests.
In an effort to control vaginitis, research is under way to determine the factors that promote the growth and disease-causing potential of vaginal microbes. No longer considered merely a benign annoyance, vaginitis is the object of serious investigation as scientists attempt to clarify its role in such conditions as pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy-related complications.
Here are some questions to consider:
1. Do you eat sugar, or are you diabetic? (Candida thrives on sugar.)
2. Are you wearing synthetic panty hose or panties without a cotton crotch?
3. Do you wash your vagina with soap? (Soap can irritate the tissues. In most cases only water and a washcloth are necessary.) - The use of Sunshine Concentrated Cleaner is recommended.
4. Do you have a depressed immune function due to an illness or unhealthy lifestyle? (Eating junk food or inadequate sleep, etc.)
5. Are you taking antibiotics (which kill healthy flora), steroids or birth control pills (which adversely affect the pH of the vagina)?
6. Are you pregnant?
7. Have you ruled out food, pollen, detergent or semen allergies with a medical practitioner trained in allergies?
8. Are you sexually active? (Sexual intercourse is contraindicated while you are infected as you may pass the Candida to your partner and continue to pass it back and forth.)
Suggested Treatments for Yeast Infections
* You must eat a healthy, low-sugar, low-grain diet
* You will want to increase your probiotic intake with probiotic capsules. This is especially important if you are taking antibiotics (or have in the recent past)
* Other dietary considerations include avoidance of all simple sugars, dairy (except if cultured), alcohol, cheeses, dried fruits, melons, peanuts and all suspected food allergens as all these will exacerbate Candida.
* We recommend taking the 14 Day program produced by Nature's Sunshine "Candida-Clear".
Other treatments include:
(by Dr. Kendra Pearsall N.D.)
* Inserting one Boric acid powder capsule morning and evening for three to seven days for an acute infection, and 14 to 30 days for a chronic infection. I have not seen Boric acid capsules widely available in health stores or pharmacies but women can make their own by buying a bottle of Boric acid powder and gelatin capsules (a capsule-making machine makes the process go faster).
Studies show the effectiveness of Boric acid is very high especially in women with chronic resistant yeast infections--one study with 100 women showed a 98 percent success rate with this condition. If you find that the Boric acid irritates your external genitalia you can protect the tissue with vitamin E oil (preferred) or Vaseline.
* Insert a garlic clove into the vagina in the morning and an acidophilus capsule in the evening for three to seven days. * Soak a tampon with diluted tea tree oil and keep it in the vagina overnight.
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