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What Happens If A Yeast Infection Goes Untreated? Complications And Mangement

What Happens If A Yeast Infection Goes Untreated? Complications And Mangement

Some mild vaginal yeast infections heal independently or may require lifestyle modifications or home remedies to heal within three to five days. However, some moderate to severe yeast infections require antifungal over-the-counter or prescription medicines to eradicate within two weeks. What happens if a yeast infection goes untreated? Unfortunately, sometimes yeast infections become resistant and do not respond to even potent oral antifungals, which ultimately cause recurrence and complications.

If a vaginal yeast infection is left untreated, it can become invasive candidiasis, leading to candidemia ( yeast in the blood). Furthermore, yeast infection in the blood can infect almost every organ or tissue the blood perfuses, becoming a dire medical condition. Yeast mouth, penis, nails, and toes infections can also become complicated and invasive. The following description explains all the unwanted side effects and complications of vaginal and other yeast infections and the management and prevention of candidemia.

What Happens If A Yeast Infection Goes Untreated?

Vaginal yeast infection, also known as Candidiasis, causes irritation, burning, itching, pain, and swelling of the vagina and vulva due to the overgrowth of yeast. If a yeast infection goes untreated, what happens? Usually, the indicative symptoms of vaginal yeast infections initially aggravate, leading to more itching, burning, and pain. A patient may feel extreme pain and a burning sensation during urinating and sexual intercourse.

Moreover, the vaginal tract becomes highly inflamed with multiple blisters. These blisters become lesions when a yeast infection is left untreated, and the virulent fungal species can enter systemic circulation through the vaginal vasculature. The following are the consequences of what happens if a yeast infection goes untreated.

Invasive Candidiasis

The term ‘invasive candidiasis’ means a yeast infection (candidiasis) that becomes aggravated and complicated. It happens when a blister or an open sore infected with yeast become exposed to blood. Human blood, though, contains immune cells that fight against infections; the blood composition of sugars, proteins, warmth, and fluid nature becomes favorable for yeast proliferation. Blood laden with yeast can spread the infection to other body parts when perfusing different body organs. For example;

  • Brain and spinal cord
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Bones
  • Intestine

In addition, invasive candidiasis is not necessarily a complication of vaginal yeast infection. It can also be caused by a skin or nail yeast infection or oral thrush. It is a life-threatening condition that can cause prolonged hospital admission and even death, mainly when not diagnosed and managed earlier. Symptoms of invasive candidiasis include fever, chills, hypotension, abdominal pain, muscle pain, fatigue, skin rash, confusion, headache, sensitivity to light, blurriness, and memory loss.

Furthermore, the common cause of invasive candidiasis is using medical devices like IV catheter that picks up candida from the skin and transmit it into the bloodstream. Moreover, open sores or lesions of untreated yeast infections of the mouth, penis, nails, or vagina can cause invasive candidiasis. The treatment of invasive candidiasis depends on the infection’s age, location, infections’ severity, and immune system strength. Common medications (injections), administered for about two weeks, include anidulafungin, micafungin, caspofungin, and fluconazole.

Candidemia

Candidemia means yeast infection in the blood, is one of the presentations of invasive candidiasis. According to CDC, it is the most common hospital-acquired infection in the United States, leading to a prolonged hospital stay, disability, death, and high treatment expenditure. The infection in the bloodstream affects other body organs, as enlisted above, and causes complications in those body parts. For example, candida arthritis, skin infections, pancreatitis, hepatosplenic candidiasis,

Complications In Pregnancy

What happens if a yeast infection goes untreated during pregnancy? Yeast infections most commonly occur in pregnant females due to hormonal fluctuations such as high estrogen levels. You must visit your gynecologist immediately and take topical antifungals with minimal to no systemic side effects. Oral antifungals, including flucytosine, ketoconazole, and fluconazole, are teratogenic and can cause congenital disabilities. Moreover, taking fluconazole (Diflucan) during the first trimester of pregnancy is not advisable because it can cause miscarriage.

Inability to Conceive

Can I still conceive if I have a yeast infection? Can a yeast infection cause infertility?  Though recurrent and untreated yeast infections do not directly affect fertility, they can make intercourse uncomfortable and challenging to conceive. The reason is yeast infection thickens the mucus lining of the vagina due to inflammation and impedes the passage of sperm to reach the fallopian tubes. Therefore, treating a yeast infection is essential before planning a baby.

Also Read: Can Yeast Infection Cause Infertility? An Expert’s Interview

Candida Endocarditis

What happens if a yeast infection goes untreated for too long? Candida endocarditis is a life-threatening medical emergency characterized by the overgrowth of yeast (Candida) in the heart valves. It causes inflammation in the heart chambers’ inner lining (endocardium). The patient experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and a change in the heart sounds. Furthermore, a patient should visit a doctor if he experiences joint pain, chest pain, fever, and chills. Early diagnosis via CBC, ECG, CT scan, or MRI is essential to manage the condition effectively. Candida endocarditis is treated with IV antifungals in an emergency, following oral antifungals for an extended period. In persistent endocarditis, heart valve surgery is recommended.

Renal Candidiasis and Candidiuria

Localized renal candidiasis rarely occurs due to the spread of yeast infection to the kidneys via blood. Nevertheless, a patient experiences fever, candiduria, and impairment in renal function. The spread of yeast in the ureters and renal pelvis can cause blood in the urine and urinary obstruction. Moreover, candiduria is the colonization of yeast in the bladder. Diagnostic tests reveal yeast in the urine. Instead, some patients remain asymptomatic. Asymptomatic candiduria rarely causes candidemia. Early diagnosis and management are crucial.

Candida Arthritis and Osteoarticular Infections

If a yeast infection goes untreated, what happens? Candidemia ( yeast in the bloodstream) can infect bones and joints, leading to candida arthritis and osteomyelitis. Candida arthritis is characterized by fever, pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints, mainly the hip joint or knees. It is diagnosed by taking a sample of synovial joint fluid and examining the presence of yeast species. Moreover, the condition is treated with oral antifungals and joint debridement.

Intestinal Yeast Infection

Yeast infection that spreads in the intestinal tract produces several GI symptoms and can also aggravate the present symptoms of an untreated yeast infection. These include diarrhea, bloating, intestinal gas, abdominal tenderness, irritable bowel syndrome, and other symptoms like insomnia, mood swings, depression, and loss of concentration.

Yeast Infection Untreated; Do You Really Have A Yeast Infection?

Women often take antifungals due to similar symptoms but do not have a yeast infection. These symptoms may occur due to allergic reactions when exposed to scented soaps, body washes, perfumes, tampons, or lotions. Moreover, conditions like bacterial vaginosis, herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis can produce symptoms confused with that yeast infections. Therefore, if you have a yeast infection that does not respond to the antifungal therapy, it might mean that you do not have a yeast infection. Accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment and in-time management to avoid recurrence and complications like candidemia.

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FAQs

1.    Would I be able to use my spa if I had a vaginal yeast infection? Would a swimming pool be a good idea? Does this mean I can pass the infection on?

Swimming in a pool or spa is entirely possible with vaginal yeast infections because the yeast does not spread by this means. Drying the genitalia after swimming is advisable, or you can use talcum powder to prevent perspiration. Sexual contact can spread the infection to another person in case of unhygienic practices. Nevertheless, the amount of yeast you pass on to another partner is negligible to cause infection.

2.    My Urine smells yeasty. The odor goes away for a few days, then returns after I take over-the-counter yeast infection medications. I can only feel a distinct smell, not pain or itching. Is this what a yeast infection looks like?

Recurring yeast infections are often accompanied by pain, swelling, irritation, and excessive vaginal secretions, which means that only a yeasty odor in urine does not mean a yeast infection. Urine fungal infections are common, particularly in patients receiving antibiotics for a prolonged period.  Moreover, it might happen that a skin or vaginal infection caused by bacteria is producing that yeasty odor. Therefore, urine analysis and culture of vaginal secretions are necessary for accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

3.    Can I Transmit Untreated Yeast Infection?

A person infected with a yeast infection can transmit the yeast to another individual through sexual contact,  using your infected partner’s sex toys, or bath linen. Nevertheless, all this happens when you practice unhygienic measures and do not wash the genitalia thoroughly and dry it.

Summing Up

Yeast infections are easily managed without complications; occasionally, they do not treat and become fatal. What happens if a yeast infection goes untreated? It can cause invasive candidiasis or candidemia that can ultimately spread to different organs, causing an infection. The above description explains all the harmful consequences if a vaginal yeast infection goes untreated what happens. The complications are still treatable even if they are diagnosed and managed in time.

Related Article: How To Stop Yeast Infection Itching? Home Remedies And Complementary Medicine

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