What are Chronic Yeast Infections?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Chronic yeast infections are infections with Candida yeasts that resist treatment, recurring four or more times a year and sometimes lasting for extended periods of time. They typically occur in the mouth or vagina, and can become very disruptive for the patient. They can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, so patients who experience numerous yeast infections during the course of a year should ask for a more in-depth medical evaluation to find out why.

Yeasts colonize the warm, dark, moist orifices of the body when they are provided with an opportunity to do so. This can be the result of immune suppression that allows yeasts to thrive because the body cannot fight them, pH imbalances that kill off beneficial bacteria normally found feeding on yeast, or extended courses of antibiotics that wipe out bacteria. Many people experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives and treat it with an antifungal medication to resolve the problem.

In chronic yeast infections, the infection returns frequently and may respond to treatment sluggishly. People with yeast infections develop distinctive white to yellow patches, a foul smelling discharge, itching, burning, and discomfort. If a patient has chronic yeast infections and no known underlying cause like immunosuppression, a medical evaluation should be performed to look for possible causes and check for signs of untreated chronic disease.


It is also advisable to take a culture to see what kind of yeast is present. The infection may not be responding to medication because the wrong drugs are being given, or because it isn't being caused by yeast at all. Some other types of infections can mimic yeast infections. People may think they have chronic yeast infections because a doctor identified the problem as yeast on an initial exam, when in fact the cause is something else entirely. Once identified, the cause can be treated with the right medication and the patient can start experiencing relief.

People with active yeast infections can potentially pass the organisms on to other people. Healthy individuals may be able to resist infection, but people who have compromised immune systems or who are on antibiotics may be less resilient. It is advisable to use care around people while a yeast infection is active, and to wash the hands regularly after coming into contact with the infection to reduce the risk of spreading the organisms to someone who cannot fight them off.



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