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Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)

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Candidiasis is a fungal infection that can affect areas such as the:

  • Skin
  • Genitals
  • Throat
  • Mouth
  • Blood

It is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast called Candida, usually Candida albicans. This yeast is normally found in small amounts in the human body.

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But certain medicines and health problems can cause more yeast to grow, particularly in warm, moist body areas. This can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms.

There are several types of candidiasis:

  • If it is in the mouth or throat, it is called oral candidiasis, oropharyngeal candidiasis, or thrush.
  • If it affects the genital area, it is called a yeast infection. In women, it may be called a vulvovaginal yeast infection.
  • If yeast infects the skin on a baby's bottom area, it causes a diaper rash.
  • If the infection enters your bloodstream, it is called invasive candidiasis or candidemia.

Symptoms and treatment depend on which part of the body is infected.

Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)

A yeast infection of the mouth or throat area is called thrush. Healthy adults do not usually get thrush. It is most often seen in:

  • Infants
  • Elderly
  • Patients getting chemotherapy
  • People with AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system

It can also be seen in people with diabetes or in those who take antibiotics or asthma inhalers with steroid medication.

Common symptoms include:

  • White spots inside the mouth and on the tongue
  • Redness or discomfort in the mouth area
  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Cracking at corners of the mouth where your lips meet

It is important to see your doctor if you have thrush. Untreated, it may infect your bloodstream, which can be very dangerous. Treatment depends on your:

  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Severity of the infection

In general, if you have thrush, your doctor will give you antifungal medicine to kill the yeast. This medicine may come in a mouthwash or a pill that you swallow or that dissolves in your mouth.

If the infection does not go away and becomes life threatening, you may be given a powerful antifungal drug given through a vein (IV).

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