Fungal Infections

OVERVIEW

Fungal infections are caused by microorganisms called fungi. Fungi are large creatures that often feed on decaying and dead plant and animal debris. They are mostly found in soil, on soil-contaminated things, on plants and animals, on skin, and occasionally in the air. Depending on the environment, fungi can survive as yeasts or molds and can switch between the two forms. Yeasts are small, simple cells with a diameter of 3 to 5 micrometers (0.0001 to 0.0002 inches). Molds are composed of hyphae, which are 2 to 10 micrometer-diameter filamentous branching structures made of several cells stacked one on top of the other. Mycoses, which include conditions like histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, and blastomycosis, are fungi that cause illnesses in people.

These conditions can range from mild, which manifests as an upper respiratory infection, to severe, affecting every organ system including the circulation. In people whose immune systems have been compromised by hunger, cancer, or the use of immunosuppressive medications, fungi can cause life-threatening illness. While superficial fungal infections are very harmless and easy to treat, internal infections are often difficult to treat. For superficial infections, you can use antifungal creams (a class of specific antibiotics).  To consult a doctor near you, type “general physician near me” into the Google search box.

TYPES

Fungal infections are classified on the basis of commonality, area, immune system frailty, and type of fungi.

The most common fungal diseases that can affect anyone are:

  1. Ringworm – Ringworm is a common fungal infection which is called so because it causes a circular rash, characterized by redness and itchiness. Its medical terms are “tinea” or “dermatophytosis”. The fungus that causes this illness can be found on surfaces, clothing, bedding, and other household objects. “Athlete’s foot” is another name for ringworm occurring on the feet. It is infectious in nature and can be transmitted through other humans, animals and even from the environment.
  1. Candidiasis –  Esophagus changes (often due to hormones, changes in the immune system, or medicines) in a way that promotes fungal growth, leading to the growth of Candida and the development of an infection. Mouth and throat infections, such as candidiasis and thrush, are other names for the condition that affects these areas. Candidiasis occurring in the vagina is called vaginal candidiasis. A vaginal yeast infection is the usual term for vaginal candidiasis. Vaginal candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, and candidal vaginitis are other names for this condition.
  1. Fungal nail infections – also known as “onychomycosis,” fungal nail infections are quite common. Fungal fingernail infections also occur, but less so than fungal toenail infections. While the majority of fungal nail infections are not serious, they can cause discomfort and give the nails an unsightly appearance. Nails that have been infected by fungi may become thick, brittle, or cracked. Another possibility is for the nail to detach from the nail bed.

Athlete’s foot, ringworm on the foot, or “tinea pedis” are all terms used to describe a fungal skin infection on the foot, particularly between the toes, that frequently coexists with fungal toenail infections. Fungal nail infections can be a cause of old age, nail injury, foot deformity, trauma, diabetes, venous insufficiency, a weakened immune system, or fungal infections on other parts of the body.

Most common fungal infections can be easily treated at home, but in severe cases, type “general physician near me” into the Google search box.

FUNGAL INFECTIONS CAUSED DUE TO LIVING OR TRAVELING TO CERTAIN AREAS WITH HIGH INCIDENCE OF CERTAIN FUNGAL INFECTIONS.

  1. Blastomycosis – The source of this sickness is a fungus called Blastomyces, which thrives in the environment, especially in damp soil and in decaying stuff like wood and leaves. After inhaling the minute fungus spores, people might get blastomycosis. Even while the majority of those who breathe in the spores don’t become sick, some do have symptoms like fever and cough, and if the illness is left untreated, it can occasionally turn serious.
  2. Coccidioidomycosis – also called alley fever, is caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus is known to live in soil in the southwest United States, as well as in several regions of Mexico, Central America, and South America. The fungus spores in the air can cause Valley fever in humans, but the majority of those who breathe them in don’t become ill. Most people who get valley fever recover on their own in a few weeks to months, but a small percentage may need antifungal therapy.
  3. Gattii infection – The fungus Cryptococcus gattii is typically found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although it may also be found in some temperate locations like British Columbia and some sections of the United States. An uncommon ailment known as C. gattii cryptococcosis can be contracted by inhaling the tiny fungus. The central nervous system, lungs, and other bodily systems may be impacted by the illness.
  4. Paracoccidioidomycosis – Paracoccidioidomycosis is an infection caused by the fungus Paracoccidioides. This fungus lives in parts of Central and South America. Anyone who lives in or visits areas where Paracoccidioides lives can get paracoccidioidomycosis, but it most often affects men who work outdoors in rural areas. 
  5. Histoplasmosis – An infection known as histoplasmosis is brought on by the fungus Histoplasma. The fungus thrives in the environment, especially in soil that has been heavily contaminated by bat or bird droppings. Histoplasma is primarily found in the central and eastern states of the United States, and in portions of Australia, Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America. 

After inhaling the minute fungus spores, people might get histoplasmosis. The majority of folks who inhale the spores don’t become ill, but those who do may have a fever, cough, and exhaustion. While many people with histoplasmosis recover without treatment, the illness can become severe in some people, such as those with compromised immune systems.

It can become difficult to avoid yeast infections while traveling, cohabiting with infected individuals or living in high incidence areas. However there are measures you can take to avoid them. In case you develop an infection anyway.

TYPES OF FUNGAL INFECTIONS THAT AFFECT PEOPLE WITH WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEMS

  1. Aspergillosis – Aspergillosis is a condition caused by Aspergillus, a common mold. It may occur both indoors and out. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores regularly without getting sick. However, people who already have a lung condition or a compromised immune system are more vulnerable to Aspergillus-related health problems. Aspergillus can cause allergies, lung infections, and infections in other organs.
  1. Candida auris – A newly discovered fungus called Candida auris poses a severe danger to world health. It is frequently multidrug resistant, which means that it is resistant to a variety of antifungal medications that are frequently used to treat Candida infections. All three kinds of antifungals are effective against certain strains. It is challenging to identify using conventional laboratory techniques, and it might be mistakenly diagnosed in labs lacking specialized technology. Inappropriate management may result from misidentification.

In hospitals, it has led to epidemics. In order for healthcare institutions to take extra steps to halt its spread, it is crucial to immediately diagnose C. auris in a hospitalized patient.

  1. Invasive candidiasis – An illness known as invasive candidiasis is brought on by a yeast called Candida, which is a form of fungus. Invasive candidiasis is a dangerous illness that can harm the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones, and other regions of the body, unlike vaginal “yeast infections” or Candida infections in the mouth and throat (commonly known as “thrush”). Hospitalized individuals frequently get candidemia, a bloodstream infection with Candida.
  1. Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) – It is a serious infection caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. The majority of PCP users have a medical condition like HIV/AIDS or use medications like corticosteroids that make it harder for their bodies to fight infection and disease. Since antiretroviral medication is now widely accessible in the United States, patients with HIV/AIDS are less likely than ever to receive PCP (ART). PCP, however, continues to be a serious public health issue.
  1. C. neoformans infection – A fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans is present in the environment all around the planet. Even though most individuals who are exposed to the tiny fungus never become sick from it, people can contract C. neoformans after breathing it in. Healthy individuals seldom get C. neoformans infections; instead, those with compromised immune systems, particularly those with severe HIV/AIDS, are more likely to do so.
  1. Mucormycosis – A group of molds known as mucormycetes are the source of the deadly but uncommon fungal illness known as mucormycosis (formerly known as zygomycosis). These molds are present everywhere in the environment. People with health issues or those who use medications that reduce the body’s capacity to fight infection and disease are more likely to develop mucormycosis. After breathing in fungus spores from the air, it most frequently affects the sinuses or the lungs. It may also appear on the skin following a burn, cut, or other skin damage.
  1. Talaromycosis – This is caused by the fungus Talaromyces marneffei. Only those who reside in or go to Southeast Asia, southern China, or eastern India are susceptible to talaromycosis. The majority of individuals who get talaromycosis have a medical condition that impairs their immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, or another illness that lessens the body’s capacity to fight off pathogens and disease. 

OTHER FUNGAL INFECTIONS

  1. Fungal eye infections – Endophthalmitis is the term for endophthalmic inflammation or infection, whereas keratitis is used to describe inflammation or infection of the cornea (the transparent, front layer of the eye). Eye infections can be brought on by a wide variety of fungus. Despite their rarity, fungus-related eye infections can be exceedingly dangerous. The most frequent cause of a fungal eye infection is an eye injury, especially if the damage was brought on by plant matter, such as a stick or thorn.
  1. Mycetoma – Mycetoma is a condition brought on by certain bacteria and fungus that may be found in soil and water. These germs and fungi can enter the body through a skin breach, frequently on the foot. Firm, mostly painless, but crippling lumps form under the skin as a result of the infection, which may eventually harm the bone beneath the skin. Mycetoma may be brought on by fungus or bacteria (actinomycetoma) (eumycetoma). People of all ages can get mycetoma, although men are more likely to get it. Poorer individuals in rural areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia that are close to the equator and have arid temperatures are the disease’s main victims. Mycetoma patients frequently reside in isolated places with little access to medical treatment and drugs. Mycetoma can result in serious physical impairments that make it difficult for patients to work and create social shame.
  1. Sporotrichosis – The ailment known as sporotrichosis, commonly referred to as “rose gardener’s sickness,” is brought on by the fungus sporothrix. This fungus thrives on plant material like hay, sphagnum moss, and rose bushes as well as in soil all over the world. Sporotrichosis is contracted by coming into touch with environmental fungal spores. The most prevalent type of infection is cutaneous (skin) infection. It happens when a minor wound or scrape on the skin allows the fungus to enter, commonly after touching tainted plant debris. Most frequently, the skin on the hands or arms is impacted.

RISK FACTORS

  1. People with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS, AIDS, cancer and diabetes, as well as the elderly and children.
  2. People who are frequently exposed to moist areas, such as common showers and locker rooms, are more likely to develop fungal infections.
  3. People who sweat profusely
  4. People who are genetically predisposed to develop fungal infections
  5. People who are in regular contact with people who are experiencing fungal infections.

PREVENTION

The majority of fungi are crucial to human health and well-being. However, by upholding strict cleanliness standards and avoiding areas where fungi have a tendency to proliferate, repeated fungal infections of the skin, hair, and nails can be prevented.

  1. Keep your hands and feet clean and dry. Make sure to dry your skin properly between your toes before putting on your footwear to avoid getting wet feet.
  2. Wear footwear whenever going outdoors, especially in areas like locker rooms where more individuals prefer to go barefoot. Wearing shoes is a smart strategy to safeguard oneself since going around barefoot might result in a fungal illness. Walking about barefoot can also raise your risk of spreading any fungal infections you may have on your feet.
  3. Wear well-fitting shoes and socks that allow your feet enough breathing space.
  4. Avoid sharing personal hygiene items such as towels, nail clippers, scissors and combs

Get your minor fungal infections treated without delay. Type “general physician near me” into the Google search box to consult a doctor today.

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