Yeast infections do not pose a serious health risk but can cause a great deal of discomfort and irritation. Yeast infections can affect anyone from children to adults and both men and women, but they are most common in women. Though yeast infections are not a serious condition they can cause symptoms that are extremely embarrassing and unpleasant. Another problem with yeast infections is their tendency to recur and once you have an infection, the chances of suffering from another infection in the future are much higher.
Yeast is a type of microscopic fungi that lives in the human body. The most common type of fungi responsible for yeast infections is known as Candida Albicans. Under normal circumstances, a certain amount of yeast is necessary for the healthy functioning of the digestive system and a person's overall health. The problem arises when the amount of yeast in the body multiplies and overwhelms the normal functioning of the various systems. When this happens a yeast infection occurs and immediate medical treatment is required to prevent the condition from escalating or recurring.
Depending on the area affected various symptoms will be manifested. Symptoms of a yeast infection may include:
The problem with a yeast infection is that it tends to recur often. Repeated infections can affect a person's immunity and health. If a person consistently suffers from yeast infections or does not respond to any form of treatment it may also be an early symptom of HIV.
The Candida yeast, responsible for infection is present on healthy skin, but the onset of an infection resulting from an overgrowth is prevented by the immune system and competing microorganisms like bacteria. A weak immune system or any disease that weakens the immune system could therefore be responsible for yeast infections. This is why elderly individuals may also be more susceptible to yeast infections, especially oral thrush.
In the case of vaginal yeast infections, such an overgrowth of Candida cells occur when the normal vaginal flora is disturbed reducing the presence of healthy bacteria such as lactobacilli. Such disturbances to the vaginal flora can occur for a variety of reasons - from the use of detergents to douches. Other factors that could put a woman at risk include the use of oral contraceptives, menstrual cycle, pregnancy or medical conditions such as diabetes.
Penile candidiasis is rather uncommon and in most cases it is cause through direct contact with an infected partner, such as through sexual intercourse. The use of antibiotics, low immunity levels and diseases like diabetes that affect immunity may also contribute to the development of yeast infections in men.
In all groups therefore there are certain common causes or risk factors that include:
Yeast infections can be treated using a variety of methods. Uncomplicated yeast infections, in other words mild to moderate infections, can be treated quite effectively at home. Over the counter treatments are also quite effective and can help significantly, but severe and recurrent infections should be referred to a medical specialist for treatment.
Treatments also differ, depending on the type of yeast infection. Over the counter medications for vaginal yeast infections usually include vaginal creams or suppositories. Other drugs that can help treat a yeast infection are miconazole, clotrimazole, tioconazole, and butoconazole. Diflucan (fluconazole) is supposedly a one-time pill that you can get on prescription only. However, many women report that a one-time dose is not as effective as it should be and repeat dosages may be required. In such cases, adverse side effects are not uncommon. When treating yourself, make sure you read the instructions carefully and never stop taking the medications in the middle of the recommended course. Normally a course of medication can last from three to fourteen days depending on the severity of the symptoms.
It is very important to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor before treating yourself for a yeast infection. In case there is another medical reason for your symptoms such as an STD or a bacterial infection, you may just end up making the situation a lot worse than before. If you do insist on treating yourself at home, make sure you recognize the symptoms as those of a yeast infection and that the symptoms are mild and not accompanied by any warning signs such as pelvic pain or fever. Women should also ensure that they are not pregnant before resorting to home remedies for vaginal thrush that involve natural douches and the like. In the case of oral thrush infections salt water rinses can help, but it would be best to seek medical advice. Oral thrush typically affects babies and aged adults which is why speedy treatment is essential but caution is just as important.
Here are some home remedies that could help in the treatment of vaginal yeast infections. Keep in mind that not all remedies are backed by research and its important that you exercise some amount of caution when using home remedies. If the symptoms do not seem to respond to treatment within a few days seek medical advice. The best home remedies for yeast infections in women are:
For the treatment of non-vaginal yeast infections, garlic is often advocated as an effective remedy because of its known antifungal properties. Simply apply a paste of fresh garlic to the affected areas of the skin or add a few drops of garlic oil to some vitamin E oil or coconut oil and massage directly into the infected areas as well. Garlic could help to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading. Exercise caution when using garlic can be extremely harsh and cause irritation to sensitive skin.
Most doctors suggest a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables to improve overall health and immunity. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are an easy way to meet and satisfy the five meals a day requirement. Try and avoid processed and fatty foods and stay away from foods made with refined flour and sugar as these may increase your risk of yeast infections. Keep hydrated and drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Increase your intake of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus. This can help prevent recurring yeast infections. If you cant include much yogurt in your diet, try Lactobacillus acidophilus tablets instead.