A yeast infection is caused when a fungus called Candida in our body grows unchecked. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. Normally, this fungus is kept in check by our body functions but this can be thrown out of balance for any number of reasons. Examples of these infections are vaginal yeast infections, thrush, skin and diaper rash, and nailbed infections.
Yeast can be found all over the body including in the vagina, rectum, digestive system and mouth. When this yeast grows out of control it can cause a burning and itching sensation. The most common and annoying yeast infection occurs in the vaginal tract and is called Candidiasis. It can be identified by a thick, white discharge. This discharge looks like cottage cheese and smells like bread.
It is possible for a vaginal yeast infection to be passed back and forwards between sexual partners and can reside under the foreskin of the male. Therefore, if one of the partners shows symptoms of an infection then both should be treated accordingly to ensure the infection is cleared up.
Yeast infections are quite common in women with nearly 75 percent of all women experiencing an infection at one time or another and up to 45 percent experiencing more than one infection. Many females experience this chronically and it usually begins in the mid teen years and continues on into the mid thirties.
A women who has experienced a vaginal yeast infection before can usually recognize its symptoms if it reoccurs. And women who experience these infections chronically usually have no doubt identifying the symptoms when the next yeast infection starts. Other symptoms include a white discharge with an intense irritating itch, vaginal soreness or irritation, a rash on the vulva around the vagina, pain or discomfort during intercourse, abdominal pain, soreness of the vulva or vagina, burning during urination, and even vaginal bleeding in some cases in addition to itching and discharge.
Many women do experience, in response to increased estrogen at mid-cycle and the increased production of cervical mucus, a white, curdy discharge. This is not a yeast infection but just part of the natural course the body takes.
There are other common types of yeast infections that occur in adults as they age. These usually occur in warm moist body areas such as underarms. The skin has a natural defence against yeast, but any breakdowns or cuts in the skin may allow this organism to thrive.
Oral yeast infections with adults increase as they become older. These infections can occur under the breast and lower abdomen, around dentures, nailbeds, and anywhere folds of skin are present. These types of infections are usually superficial and clear up easily and quickly without medical treatment.
In severe cases, a yeast infection can enter the bloodstream and infect the entire body. In systemic candidal disease, there is a mortality rate of 75%. Even common mouth and vaginal yeast infections can cause severe illness and become resistant to traditional treatment so it is always wise to consult your doctor if your conditions don't clear up within a few weeks.