Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus present in minute amounts in the mouth, digestive tract, genital areas, and skin. Good/healthy bacteria in our body support yeast growth and maintain the proper balance inside the body. When the balance between yeast and bacteria interrupts, it results in the overgrowth of yeast known as candidiasis (yeast infection). Candida albicans is the prevalent strain of yeast responsible for more than 90% of yeast infections.
List of factors that are responsible for yeast infections:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive consumption of refined carbs and sugar
- High-stress levels
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Weakened Immune System
Yeast infections are widespread, especially among children and women. Most go away on their own without any medication or treatment. Your immune system should be strong enough to fight and heal these infections. Mild ones usually clear up within one to two weeks.
If yeast infections persist for more than two weeks, yeast may convert itself into a more invasive form that spreads into the body and releases more potent toxins. These potent toxins may suppress the immune system of your body and may lead to potential health complications. Sometimes, a single yeast infection may give rise to multiple yeast infections in different parts of your body. This systemic yeast overgrowth requires proper treatment.
Untreated Yeast Infections
When yeast grows out of control, it may cause discomfort and unpleasant symptoms. People are still unaware of the potential health complications associates with yeast infections. Most of the time, people do not take yeast infections seriously and consult their healthcare professionals for diagnosis and treatment. They believe that the infection will go away on its own. Such types of negligence are very common, which may often lead to serious problems.
If yeast infections are left untreated, they can cause long-term damage to your body. As a result, mild treatable yeast infections may turn into chronic yeast infections with more unpleasant symptoms that are difficult to treat.
Untreated yeast infections are very dangerous for your health. Sometimes, yeast may enter your bloodstream, which is called candidemia. Candidemia spreads to other parts of the body, which may lead to serious health complications.
Complications Associated with Yeast Infections
Usually, yeast infections are easy to treat. You can get rid of mild yeast infections without developing worse and unpleasant symptoms. However, it is hard to get rid of systemic yeast infections as they spread to several parts of your body. The overgrowth of Candida albicans gives rise to various health problems. Some of these are as follows:
Recurrent Genital or Urinary Tract Infections
Candida albicans is also present in the vagina, where healthy bacteria maintain the proper balance. Disruption in pH may disturb the balance between beneficial bacteria and Candida, leading to vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections. The recurrence of vaginal yeast infections is common in women. Genital yeast infections are less common in men but may cause the tip of the penis to be painful, red, and swollen.
Recurrent genital or urinary tract infections are disruptive. Such infections are characterized by discomfort, itchiness, red rash, and frequent white discharge from the vagina. Due to hormonal fluctuations, some women may experience vaginal yeast infections each month during ovulation or during their menstrual period. In contrast, some women may experience recurrent yeast infections several times a year. Moreover, yeast infections may disrupt their period or cause severe menstrual cramps.
Severe vaginal yeast infections spread inside the vagina and to nearby areas of the vagina, causing urinary tract infections. Although, yeast-associated UTIs are less common. UTIs are characterized by a burning sensation while urinating, dark, cloudy, or smelly urine. These infections are common to immune-compromised and hospitalized individuals.
Tiredness and fatigue are one of the most common health complications associated with yeast infections. People usually experience fatigue during severe yeast infections. Yeast infections (Candidiasis) are most likely to occur in individuals with nutritional deficiencies and weakened immune systems. Both these factors play a crucial role in making you feel tired.
Vaginal yeast infections may cause problems in pregnant women. During pregnancy, yeast infections are common due to hormonal fluctuations and varying vaginal pH. Vaginal itching, burning, and thick discharge are common symptoms in pregnant women. Pregnant women may also experience premature rupture of the membranes and premature labor.
Most of the pregnancy-linked yeast infections are mild and may go away on their own. Healthcare professionals focus on reducing yeast infection symptoms due to safety concerns. Only topical treatments are safe to use during pregnancy. Such treatments may take more time to clear up yeast infections. Oral medications are generally not safe during pregnancy.
A change in vaginal pH may lead to difficulty conceiving. Yeast infections are involved in altering the pH balance in your vagina. Sperm need specific conditions for their survival. A change in vaginal pH due to yeast infections may kill sperm even before reaching the uterus.
The balance between good bacteria and yeast is necessary for maintaining gut health. The gut normally contains good bacteria for the proper digestion of fibers, starches, and sugars. Yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of yeast, which disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria and yeast, causing various digestive issues such as bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and nausea.
Yeast overgrowth has negative effects on gut health. If the yeast infection is left untreated for a long time, it may cause serious digestive complications, including leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is characterized by the impairment in the permeability of the gut’s membrane. As the infection grows, it damages the walls of the gut.
The leakage of the gut membrane results in the release of toxins and undigested food particles into the bloodstream. This leakage of toxins and undigested food particles triggers an immune response in the body, causing various health problems such as allergies, food sensitivities, and a weakened immune system.
In more severe cases, the overgrowth of yeast spreads the infection to other organs of the body. As a result, a single yeast infection becomes responsible for causing multiple yeast infections in the body. These systemic yeast infections interact and affect different body organs, including the heart, brain, and blood. Such a condition is called invasive candidiasis.
Invasive candidiasis is a serious health complication that is not related to vaginal yeast infections. Proper and immediate treatment is necessary for the elimination of the infection. Fever and chills are common symptoms of invasive candidiasis.
Sometimes, yeast infections grow uncontrollably and enter the bloodstream. As a result, it travels throughout the body as the blood circulates and may cause joint infections, leading to arthritis. It is characterized by stiffness, swelling, and pain in your joints.
Such complications only happen if an individual is exposed to surgical treatments with weakened immune systems or if the infection is not treated properly over a long time. Joint infections are not so common but are very difficult to treat.
Oral thrush is the infection inside the mouth caused by yeast. The Oral thrush is common in newborns and young children. It is characterized by the formation of white patches on the tongue, inflammation on the inside of your cheek, bad taste, difficulty swallowing, and a white film over the tongue.
Untreated oral thrush may spread to the esophagus and cause esophageal candidiasis. During such conditions, yeast infections are most likely to enter the bloodstream and infect different body parts. Prolonged oral thrush may cause sores on the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, and in your throat, making it difficult to drink, eat, and even speak.
Candidal paronychia is the inflammation of the fingernails caused by Candida albicans. It is characterized by the red, swollen, and painful area around the fingernails. These infections are common to people whose hands constantly remain in water. In severe infections, the fingernail may separate from the nail bed, leaving a yellowish or whitish nail bed.
Some rare complications associated with yeast infections are mood swings and headaches.
It is recommended to consult your healthcare professional if you experience a yeast infection. Proper treatment helps in getting rid of the infection and reduces the recurrence of infection.
Normally, it takes seven to fourteen days to reduce the symptoms of yeast infections with proper treatment. However, some people are resistant to Candida yeast infection treatment. They are resistant to prescribed medications and do not stop the yeast from rapidly growing. If you experience any unpleasant symptoms during treatment, immediately discuss them with your healthcare professional.