What is Candidemia?

Candidemia is another name for candedemia, fungemia, systemic yeast infection, or invasive candidiasis. It is the most serious form of yeast infection and can be fatal. It is most common in those with weakened immune systems, critically ill patients in hospital. It is not something most healthy people need to worry about. The problem with any systemic fungal infection is the diagnosis. It is so vital to diagnose it quickly, to treat it before too much damage to internal organs is done, but it is hard to diagnose and patients die because doctors have not recognized the problem in time.

Who is at risk of candidemia?

  • Cancer patients – the illness and treatment weakens their immune system
  • HIV/AIDS patients – weakened immune system
  • Patients on medications that suppress the immune system
  • People with catheters – these are a place where candida biofilms can form and infect the patient
  • low weight premature newborns – passing through the vaginal or birth canal they can pick up candida and since their immune system is even weaker than that of a regular newborn they are at high risk of death
  • broad spectrum antibiotics – kill the good bacteria that controls the candida
  • organ transplant patients – at more risk of contaminated instruments and weakened immune systems
  • regular dialysis – catheter use
  • uncontrolled diabetes mellitus – blood sugar levels are up which feeds the candida
  • multiple abdominal surgeries – can let yeasts out into the bloodstream
  • Severe burns victims – compromised immune systems

Symptoms of candidemia

  • candida sepsis – blood is infected
  • high fever
  • elevated heart rate
  • chills
  • quick breathing
  • elevated white blood cell count
  • muscle aches
  • flu like symptoms
  • pain
  • confusion
  • associated organ dysfunction depending which the infected blood reaches before treatment, any organ can be affected, eyes, lungs, kidneys, brain, heart. Rarely a major organ can be affected before signs of sepsis begin but usually they come first.
  • At least 40% of patients with candidemia die

Treating candidemia
Treatment usually involves two drugs, fluconazole and amphotericin B administered by IV. It is important that if the source of infection is a catheter in non neutropenic patients this can be safely removed. Recently an IV form of treatment using itraconazole has been developed for patients who show resistance to the other two treatment, or who have candidemia caused by a species of candida that does not respond to them.

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