What is Systemic Candidiasis?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Systemic candidiasis is an infection with Candida, a fungal organism that causes yeast infections, that spreads to various parts of the body. This infection spreads through the bloodstream and can affect a range of vital organs, including the brain and the liver. While there are treatments for systemic candidiasis, the condition can be life-threatening.

A person with a systemic candida infection may experience both a skin and nail fungal infection.
A person with a systemic candida infection may experience both a skin and nail fungal infection.

Candidiasis is an infection that is caused by a fungal organism called Candida. Fungus often is present in mouths and digestive tracts as well as on the skin and in the vagina; in most cases, it does not cause infection. Sometimes, however, this fungus can overgrow and lead to conditions such as thrush, which is a fungal infection of the mouth. The most common overgrowth of this condition is a yeast infection, which is usually treated with antifungal medications that are inserted into the patient’s vagina. Some people, however, develop a systemic infection that spreads through the bloodstream and goes on to infect other parts of the body.

When a person has a systemic candidiasis infection, the Candida may affect the mouth, esophagus, skin, nail, vagina, and digestive system. This infection may also affect the lungs, brain, liver, and other parts of the body. A severe case of systemic infection can be difficult to treat, as it may affect various parts of the body so extensively. In some cases, treatment is unsuccessful and the condition progresses enough to cause the death of the patient.

Symptoms of a systemic candidiasis infection depend on which parts of the body are affected. They can include itchiness and vaginal discharge, white patches in the mouth, itchiness of the skin, and yellowing and thickening of the toenails or fingernails. A person with this condition may also develop pain when urinating, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and skin rashes. Joint paint may also develop with systemic candidiasis.

The majority of those who develop systemic candidiasis fall victim to the condition because their immune systems are compromised in some way. For example, a person may develop systemic candidiasis in relation to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or another type of immune deficiency. This condition may also be more likely to develop in those who have undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes. Elderly people and newborns may also be more vulnerable to the condition.

Treatment for systemic candidiasis usually includes potent drugs, such as fluconazole or ketoconazole, taken by mouth or injection. Unfortunately, these antifungal drugs often cause severe side effects. Sometimes a person may also be hospitalized so doctors can monitor recovery or manage any severe side effects that might develop.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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