Candida Albicans in The Lungs

Candida albicans are a species of fungus once known as Monilia that cause most yeast infections people suffer from on the skin, and mucous membranes like the mouth, the rectum or the vagina. For most a yeast infection is an annoying problem that causes symptoms such as itching, redness inflammation, a rash and discharge to name a few. For a few, those with weakened immune systems, if it becomes a systemic infection where it enters the bloodstream and attacks internal organs it can be life threatening. Candida albicans in the lungs can happen to those hospitalized patients.

How does a person get Candida albicans in the lungs?
Candida albicans are part of the natural flora in the intestinal tract along with good bacteria and other micro-organisms. The candida is normally harmless and is kept at low numbers by the good bacteria unless something triggers a change or an imbalance that allows them to overgrow. The toxins the pathogenic candida releases cause symptoms of yeast infections and commonly affects the mouth, vagina, or skin. Less frequently it can affect men, be a diaper rash in babies, be in the nails, the esophagus.

In hospitalized patients suffering from weakened immune systems candida infections are more common. Patients with HIV, AIDS, undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants, premature babies, are all more susceptible to the life threatening form of systemic candida. This is where the fungus enters the bloodstream and from there is able to travel around the body infecting essential organs like the heart, the brain and of course the lungs. Patients that get candida albicans in the lungs are already ill people, it is not something that happens to normally otherwise healthy people.

What does candida in the bloodstream cause?
Usually patients have a high fever, chills, sometimes a rash but not always, are in shock, and may have anemia. Depending on the organ depends on what other symptoms can occur;

  • Candida albicans in the brain can lead to changes in mental function, cause seizures, and change in behavior
  • Candida albicans in the kidneys can lead to blood in the urine
  • Candida in the eyes can cause pain and blurred vision
  • Candida albicans in the lungs can cause bloody sputum (mucus discharge)
  • Candida in the heart can cause valve damage and heart murmurs

When dealing with a systemic infection where candida albicans in the lungs or other organs is a possibility several tests will be done by the doctor including physical exam, medical history, blood tests, blood cultures, and possibly tissue biopsy.

Treating candida albicans in the lungs
The more serious side of this infection will need IV medication in hospital. There are several anti-fungal drugs that can be used to treat a systemic infection. Where possible antibiotics should be stopped as these kill the good bacteria that control the yeast.

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