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Candidiasis – A Common Cause of Vaginal Infection

Candidiasis is the descriptive name used to identify any infection caused by a species of fungi, called C. albicans, which is responsible for a number of vaginal infections. Vaginitis, thrush, and moniliasis are exchangeable terms for the medical conditions that affect the female reproductive tract. They are painful, disruptive, and embarrassing to live with.

The clinical manifestation, treatment and management of the vaginitis are presented here to help females cope with the discomfort of the disease.

Vaginitis

Cause: vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. The cause of vaginal infections is multiple; however, candidiasis, a fungal infection is one of the most common reasons for vaginitis. This infection is more likely to occur when the flora and acid (pH balance) of the vagina are disturbed by: medications, poor diet, sexual transmission, frequent douching and poor self-care.

For yeast to flourish it needs a favourable environment for growth. This environment is an acidic one, as high as pH 4.7.

Vaginal infections caused by other organisms such as keravita pro Trichomonas vaginalis (T. vaginalis) thrive in a lower acid environment, with a pH at 5+.

Symptoms: when examined by a doctor, the vagina will show an unmistakeable thick, cheese-like discharge. Symptoms include:
• Heavy, white or creamy discharge
• Itching (urgent), pain, irritation and soreness around the entrance of vagina
• Burning
• Swelling (oedema), and cracked skin
• Intensity of symptoms during urination and defecation

Medical Treatment: while in a clinical setting, the health care team will normally discuss the patient’s personal history. These include: menstrual cycle, birth control methods, family history of diabetes mellitus, medications, and previous vaginal infections.

Afterwards an objective assessment is performed. The health team will directly examine the affected area for scratches, oedema, colour, and volume of discharge. A diagnostic test may also be taken (culture specimen) to establish the type of organism and establish a diagnosis.

Medical Management: a variety of methods are employed to a treat yeast infection. The major goals of treatment are to:
• Prevent complications for secondary infections
• Cure the infection
• Prevent re-infection
• Prevent transmission of infection to sexual partner

Therapeutic applications may include anti-fungal agents, including vaginal suppositories, ointments, and creams. Douching with application of heat is frequently recommended as an irrigation method as well as a means of adjusting the pH environment within the urinary tract.

During treatment, a patient is advised to refrain from sexual activity and the partner is customarily called in or prescribed treatment. The patient is further guided in observing strict hygiene, especially before and after vaginal insertion medications.

Natural treatment: for women who have been on antibiotic treatment, an easy way to return the body’s natural flora and pH balance is by taking acidophilus supplements, daily. Yoghurt is also a delicious way to introduce bacteria- friendly organisms into the blood stream.

Cranberry juice, lots of water (including liquids obtained from foods), and freshly prepared garlic are recommended as helpful remedies.

Taking showers instead of baths will reduce reinfection. Reducing refined sugars will starve the yeasts and help recover the body.

Candidiasis is a debilitating disease, which is very painful and disturbing. If the medical management previously discussed has not been effective, further medical advice should be sought.

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