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Yeast Infection

Symptoms and treatment of candidiasis

Yeast infections are quite common, with more than 75 percent of women developing at least one during their lives. Also known as yeast vaginitis, this condition is caused by a fungus called candida. The same candida organism can cause thrush, a yeast infection which occurs in the mouth. While yeast is nearly always present on the skin and in the vagina, a yeast infection can develop when the quantity of yeast increases relative to the quantity of other types of bacteria.

Symptoms of Yeast Infections

The most common yeast infection symptoms include itching, soreness, a white, thick discharge, pain during urination and pain during intercourse. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, such as vulvitis (inflammation of the external female genitals) and trichomonas. To establish that the cause of the symptoms is indeed a yeast infection, a doctor will usually collect a specimen for microscopic study or for a culture.

Yeast Infection Treatment and Prevention

The usual vaginal yeast infection treatment is an antifungal medication which is either applied topically in the vagina or taken by mouth. Most doctors recommend topical treatment for yeast infections, as oral antifungal medications often cause side effects like nausea and headaches. The topically applied antifungal creams include butoconazole (Femstat 3), miconazole (Monistat), clotrimazole (Lotrimin) and terconazole (Terazol 3). Antifungal medications available in vaginal tablet form include clotrimazole (Lotrimin or Mycelex), nystatin (Mycostatin), terconazole (Terazol) and miconazole (Monistat and Micatin). Some antifungal creams are available without a prescription, but since the symptoms of yeast infections can be confused with other conditions, it is important to see a medical professional if a course of over-the-counter antifungal medication does not clear things up, since the cause may be another type of vaginal infection.

Yeast infections are most often caused by a change or imbalance in the vaginal environment that allows the candida organisms to flourish. This may be due to the normal hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, excessive washing or tight clothing that prevents air circulation. There are a number of steps which can help to reduce the chance of a yeast infection occurring again. Medical professionals recommend:

  • Avoid hygiene products that are scented, including sprays, tampons and pads.
  • Do not use douches.
  • If you take baths, do not use scented products in the bathwater, such as bubble bath.
  • Wear underwear made from cotton.
  • Do not wear underwear made of synthetic material or tight underwear.
  • Change out pads and tampons frequently when on your period.
  • Limit exposure to hot tubs and hot baths.
  • Change out of damp exercise clothing or wet bathing suits as soon as possible.

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