What you should know about yeast infection tests

Candiasis also referred to as yeast infection is caused by any species of candidas species. It includes conditions that range from superficial problems such as vaginities or oral thrush to complex life threatening complications. People who have a compromised immune system usually suffer from the latter category of candida problems which are often known as candemia. Ordinarily candidial infections do not result in major health problems but they can be quite a nuisance although symptoms vary depending on the affected area. These minimal complications include itching, discomfort and redness however if left untreated they can get severe or even lead to fatalities. Testing for a yeast infection is critical for people who suspect they are infected so as to get the best treatment.

It is very common for candidiasis to cause vaginal irritation which is commonly referred to as vaginitis. This irritation can also occur in males, however candida infections in immune-compromised people affect a wide range of body areas such as the esophagus, urinary tract, pharynx and oral cavity. Thrush is a common occurrence in infants but it is considered normal unless it lasts longer than several weeks.

When testing for a yeast infection your physician will use several methods in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. This includes:

Speculum and bimanual pelvic examination (vaginal)
These tests are usually conducted together in order to evaluate the overall health of the woman. During these tests the patient lies on her back on the examination table with parted legs as her feet rests to the sides in devices known as stirrups. Speculum investigations involve a health professional inserting a speculum into the woman’s vagina. This instrument assists to spread the vaginal walls thus allowing the doctor to see the walls and cervix of the vagina. Samples of the tissue may be collected for later analysis.

The speculum examination is often followed by bimanual pelvic examination .This is done to check out organs such as ovaries and the uterus. It involves the physician inserting two gloved fingers into the woman’s vagina while putting pressure on the abdomen with the other hand; this is why the method is referred to as bimanual since two hands are used in the procedure. This action helps the health care expert to figure out where and how large the pelvic organs are and their condition.

Culture and sensitivity test
This is one of the methods used when testing for a yeast infection especially when the condition keeps recurring. A culture is a test performed to find out the kind of organism that is causing an illness. It is often accompanied by a sensitivity exam in order to establish the most appropriate treatment that works best for the infection.

The test is done by collecting a sample of tissue or body fluids and adding a substance to promote the growth of bacteria or other organisms that cause diseases. Some organisms such as fungus usually take longer to grow in a culture unlike others such as bacteria which grows faster. The culture and sensitivity test is done on a wide variety of body fluids such as mucus, blood, urine, pus, breast milk and discharge from genitals or spinal fluid.

Microscopic examinations
This is done using a light microscope where a swab or scrapping of the affected area is placed on the slide. A drop of 10 percent potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution is added to the specimen. KOH dissolves skin cells leaving candida cells intact, this permits visualization of yeast cells and pseudohyphae common in most candida species.

Candida yeasts are usually present in healthy human beings but their growth is always hampered by the immune system as well as other microorganisms including bacteria that occupy the same locality in the body. Use of antibiotics is known to eliminate yeast competitors for natural resources thus increasing prevalence of candida. Other factors that are likely to predispose you to this condition include hormone replacement therapy, diabetes mellitus, feeding on foods that are high in carbohydrates and cancer treatments.

Testing for a yeast infection should always be followed by appropriate treatment. This can be done using antifungal creams which are commonly for topical infections while a single dose of fluconazone taken orally has been known to be highly effective in treating vaginal conditions. Severe infections might require voriconazole or caspofungin while gentian violet is commonly used for thrush especially in babies who are breast feeding. Natural treatment approaches include tea tree oil applied topically, boric acid suppositories and probiotics.

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