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Many types of bacteria that live in our body are responsible for our gut health. Even yeasts play a major role in digestion and the right amount of yeast in the body promotes the functioning of our immune system. But when the yeasts grow out of control, you develop a yeast infection. In this article, we will be discussing vaginal yeast infections.
What Is A Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Yeast infection occurs due to the overgrowth of yeast called Candida. This fungus lives on the skin and inside the body such as mouth, throat, gut and vagina which doesn't affect your health normally. But, when they grow out of control, they cause infections.
There are over 150 Candida species, out of which only 15 cause infections which include Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis and C. krusei, etc.
What Are The Causes Of Vaginal Yeast Infection?
When the balance of the micro-organisms are disrupted due to stress, lack of sleep, certain medications, HIV, diabetes and obesity, a yeast infection happens.
Certain lifestyle habits can also throw the micro-organisms off balance which includes eating a diet high in sugar, using unscented soaps, bubble baths, douching, maintaining poor vaginal hygiene, wearing synthetic underwear and the use of certain contraceptives.
What Are The Symptoms Of Vaginal Yeast Infection?
- Itching in the vaginal area and around the vulva
- Swelling of the vulva
- Burning in the vaginal area
- Greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge
- White or gray vaginal discharge
- Vulvar rash
- Pain while having sex
- Burning during urination
Diagnosis Of Vaginal Yeast Infection
First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and your medical history which includes any past vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases you may have had. Then, the doctor will do a pelvic examination to check for redness, discharge, odour and swelling, external signs of infections and cracks in the skin of the vulva.
The yeast infection is diagnosed using a test called vaginal wet mount test.
The vaginal wet mount test is done by mixing a sample of your vaginal discharge with a salt solution. The sample is observed under a microscope. A white lumpy discharge indicates a vaginal yeast infection.
Additionally, the KOH slide test is done on the vaginal discharge by using a solution of potassium hydroxide which kills bacteria and vaginal cells, leaving the fungus that may be present in your vagina. The type of fungus causing the infection is thus detected and appropriate treatment is devised.
Treatment Of Vaginal Yeast Infection
Depending on the cause of the infection, your doctor may prescribe antifungal pills, antibiotics and vaginal suppositories or creams. Vaginal suppositories and creams such as miconazole, tioconazole, butoconazole, and clotrimazole are used to treat yeast infections.
If you are a pregnant woman, consult your doctor before applying these medications.
If the vaginal infection is severe, antifungal medicines like fluconazole and itraconazole are taken orally. The cure rate of these drugs is more than 80 per cent. However, an excess of these medications might cause liver problems as well.
If the vaginal infection is not severe, medicines like nystatin, miconazole, clotrimazole can be used.
What Are The Complications Of Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Pregnant ladies suffering from yeast infections are more likely to experience pre-term labour, pre-term rupture of membranes and other problems.
Some types of Candida can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. One of these is vaginal thrush which can lead to life-threatening systemic infections.
Also, the yeast may enter your bloodstream over time, travel to other body parts such as the lungs, heart valves and liver causing invasive candidiasis. It can cause infections in various parts of the body such as meningitis, esophagitis and endophthalmitis.
In other cases, the yeast Candida can infect the bloodstream which is called as candidemia.
How To Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections?
- Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting underwear.
- If you have gone for swimming, change immediately as the wet and moist area can cause a yeast infection.
- Stay away from hot baths.
- Avoid having too many antibiotics as it disrupts the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina.
- Avoid douching which refers to cleaning or rinsing the vagina with solutions like baking soda or vinegar. This affects the pH balance of the vagina.
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