Yeast is a fungus that naturally occurs in many locations in the human body. The immune system usually keeps its rate of growth in check. However, an infection called candidiasis happens when yeast multiplies more quickly than it should. Several things can cause this, but the most common culprit is a weakened immune system due to antibiotic use. Diagnosis is usually simple, and treatment with an antifungal medication or ointment tends to be very effective. Recurring infections with unknown causes can be more difficult to treat. The symptoms of a bad yeast infection vary depending on where it occurs in the body.
The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is discomfort in the vulva or vagina. The pain is usually described as soreness or a burning sensation, which often occurs only during urination or sexual intercourse. Most women also experience itching. Vaginal discharge that's white or gray in color may or may not be present. Its consistency can vary from watery to thick. Men can also get genital candiasis, and they usually experience an itchy rash on the penis.
Cutaneous yeast infections affect the skin. They typically occur in places where there are creases or folds, like the buttocks, groin area, abdomen and under the breasts. The most common symptom is a rash that can be extremely itchy. A bad cutaneous yeast infection may also be painful if there is inflammation. The rash may have small and large patches, with little pimples where hair follicles are infected.
The most dangerous type of yeast infections are those that enter the bloodstream, also called invasive candidiasis or candidemia. This usually occurs in people who already have weakened immune systems. After it's in the bloodstream, the infection can spread to organs and be potentially fatal. The first symptoms are usually fever and chills that don't respond to antibiotics.
Oral yeast infections are known as thrush, and they can affect the tongue and lining and corners of the mouth. Most people with this condition get thick white patches in their mouths with no soreness, but others experience pain and redness. The corners of the mouth can also become sore and cracked with a bad infection. There's a risk of dehydration if the individual avoids eating and drinking because of pain.
The other location where yeast infections are likely to occur is in the esophagus, which carries food to your stomach. Esophagitis happens when a bad case of thrush spreads beyond the mouth. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing and pain felt under the breastbone. The infection can continue spreading through the gastrointestinal system and cause serious symptoms if it's left untreated or the patient has a weakened immune system.