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Posted by on May 12, 2020 in Tell Me Why |

What Is a Yeast Infection?

What Is a Yeast Infection?

A little yeast in your body is good for you. Too much can cause infections and other health problems. If you take antibiotics too often or use oral birth control, your body might start to grow too much yeast. This often leads to gas, bloating, mouth sores, bad breath, a coating on your tongue, or itchy rashes.

One called candida fungus lives inside your body. If it grows out of control, you can get an fungal infection. Yeast infections can strike your skin, feet, mouth, penis, or vagina. If your immune system is weak, you may be more likely to get one.

If yeast is out of balance, you might get candidiasis, or a yeast infection. These most often affect your vagina, but you can also have thrush, a yeast infection in your mouth or throat. Too much yeast can trigger diarrhea or a skin rash. It’s rare, but if yeast overgrows and gets into your blood, it could cause infection throughout your whole body.

If your immune system isn’t at its best, yeast can overgrow in your body. Babies, older people, and those with diseases like diabetes or HIV infection can have weakened immune systems. Chemotherapy for cancer and steroids can zap your immune system, too.

New cancer drugs and screening tests that use yeast are in the works. Many genes involved in cancer are similar to those found in yeast, so they’re easier to map and study. One project is using yeast to create new drugs to treat aggressive breast cancer linked to the BRCA gene. Sjogren’s syndrome, which affects your immune system, can raise your risk of yeast infection.

It’s the yeast most often to blame for health problems. Candida albicans is the most common strain. But there are least 20 candida species that cause infections in humans. Candida auris is a new fungus in this family that’s a big concern. Hospital patients infected with it can get very ill and may not get help from antifungal drugs.

Content for this question contributed by Carol Cicero, resident of Slingerlands, Albany County, New York, USA