Yeast infections, or candidiasis, cause itching, discomfort, and can sometimes be downright painful. But what causes yeast infections?
Taking antibiotics is a common cause of candidiasis. Since they taken for bacterial infections, the bacteria get wiped out, and this can include the bacteria that control yeast production in your body as well. However, antibiotics have absolutely no effect on fungi, like yeast. This gives the candida free reign, allowing them to grow wildly and treat the body like their own, personal playground at a time when the immune system is already acting less efficiently.
Internal changes of the body can also result in yeast infections. During pregnancy, women become much more susceptible to vulvovaginal candidiasis (a yeast infection in the vagina), because of the change in hormones. Additionally, hormone therapy, which is often used during menopause, can also cause yeast to multiply and take over.
More serious causes of yeast infection are diseases that affect the immune system. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) seriously decreases the effectiveness of the human immune system, thus preventing it from responding as it normally would to tiny invaders like yeast. People with diabetes can also be affected more commonly by yeast infections, as it too is considered an autoimmune disorder. Furthermore, since sugar is suspected to be an aggravator of yeast, the improper function of diabetics’ blood sugar and insulin could play a role.
Risk Factors for Yeast Infection
It’s usually pretty easy for healthy adults to keep the amount of yeast in their bodies in check. Very young children, especially babies, are more likely to contract thrush, the common name for oral candidiasis. The elderly are also more likely to develop candidiasis, as their bodies are often less healthy. Smokers are at an increased risk to develop yeast infections as well. Furthermore, indiscriminate sexual activity can result in yeast infections. Although yeast is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from vaginal contact with a woman, or through oral sex.
If you think you have a yeast infection, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Treatment is often much easier with a prescription rather than over the counter medication. There are also infections that have symptoms very similar to a yeast infection, but which must be treated differently. Furthermore, since underlying diseases can make you more susceptible, it is important to diagnose those issues as well, if they are present. Candidiasis left untreated can result in much more serious consequences than a few days of painful itching.