Yeast Infection Causes

If you have a vaginal yeast infection, the first thing you should know is that it is not a sexually transmitted disease. It can affect females of any age, and it is not sexually transmitted. However, children can be particularly susceptible to this infection. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we treat children with vaginal yeast infections. Though the most common cause is candida albicans, there are many other fungi that cause the same symptoms. Because the vagina contains a proper balance of bacteria and yeast, an overgrowth of candida can disturb this balance.

Candida Albicans

Candida infections affect healthy individuals, primarily on the skin, vagina and genital areas. However, people with compromised immune systems are susceptible to more severe infections. Candida infection in the mouth is known as thrush. Although the infection affects moist surfaces, it can also spread to the esophagus. In these cases, it is essential to seek medical attention. In some instances, antifungal medication may be required.

Children undergoing chemotherapy or long-term home medications delivered through an IV catheter can develop candidiasis. Because the fungus can travel through the bloodstream, it can infect the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, eyes, and brain. The treatment for candidemia depends on the cause of the infection, and a blood culture is necessary to determine whether it is caused by the same fungus.

Other Types Of Fungus

Other types of fungus can cause yeast infections as well, including histoplasma. When spores are inhaled, these can cause histoplasmosis. People who have diabetes, weakened immune systems, or who use antibiotics are also at risk for this condition. In rare cases, the infection can also cause fungal meningitis. Treatment for yeast infection is usually a course of oral or intravenous antifungal medication. However, if the infection becomes invasive and spreads to other parts of the body, it may require surgical treatment.

Candida is the most common type of fungus that can cause a yeast infection. Yeast normally lives on skin, in the mouth, and in the digestive tract. However, some individuals can become infected with this type of fungus, leading to candidiasis, a common type of yeast infection. The infection occurs most commonly in people who have an immunosuppressive condition, such as HIV or cancer.

Immune System

The immune response to a yeast infection is complicated. The immune system is very efficient at controlling fungal infections, but certain fungi have evolved strategies to avoid clearing themselves by the immune system. Candida species evade clearance by shielding their hyphae and other proteins that trigger an immune response. In addition, C. albicans b-glucan morphogenetic changes influence the immune response.

Women who are on chronic medications can be at increased risk of getting a yeast infection, because these medicines weaken the immune system. In addition, women who have undergone organ transplants or are on corticosteroids are also at higher risk of getting a yeast infection. If you suffer from a chronic disease, you may need to undergo intensive treatment to prevent future outbreaks. But if you are a healthy woman, you do not need to worry.

Synthetic Underwear

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, and synthetic underwear is one of the main causes. These garments trap moisture and can trigger symptoms such as vaginal itching, pain during sex, and discomfort while urinating. In addition to contributing to the problem, synthetic underwear may also cause allergic reactions and alter the vagina’s environment.

The main reason why synthetic fabrics trap moisture and heat around the vagina is that they are non-breathable, so they create an ideal environment for the fungus to grow. These conditions can lead to vaginal thrush, a condition in which the ratio of bacteria and fungus in the vagina is imbalanced. Because of this, the use of synthetic underwear can trigger a relapse of a yeast infection.

Increased Estrogen Levels

Studies have shown that men can develop vaginal inflammation as a result of low estrogen levels. This inflammation can cause itching and irritation, both of which can be uncomfortable, especially in public settings. Inflammation can begin as a tingling sensation and progress to an unbearable itch. Because yeast infections can be so embarrassing, some women mistakenly think that low estrogen is a cause of yeast infection.

It is not yet clear how estrogen can contribute to the development of a yeast infection, but estrogen does seem to play a role in protecting the reproductive tract from infections. Vaginal cells are equipped with an immune system, which fights off infection. In order to support fertilization and maintain a fetus, the reproductive tract must maintain a balance between the two hormones. Lower estrogen levels protect the body from infections, while high estrogen levels suppress the immune system. While it is not entirely clear exactly how estrogen contributes to the development of a yeast infection, this research points to a possible link between estrogen and Candida growth.

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