Fungi that cause disease
Like bacteria, for example, fungi can pose a serious threat to humans as pathogens. There are cases in which they affect certain areas of the human organism but do not lead to any disease, one speaks of Commensals.
In other cases, they lead to serious infections.
There are different groups of mushrooms. Under the Dermatophytes summarizes types of fungi that mainly affect skin areas of the foot. The classic athlete's foot that you can get in damp environments (e.g. in swimming pools) is triggered by dermatophytes. The dermatophytes include Trichophyton, Microsporum and Keratomyces.
Please also read our article on this Fungal infections of the skin
Then there is the large group of yeasts. The yeast can cause inflammation of the mouth and esophagus (thrush) and can also be responsible for severe meningitis. More yeast infections are commonly called Candidiasis designated. Belong to the yeasts Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei and Cryptococcus neoformans, which is responsible for triggering the meningitis mentioned.
Please also read our article on this Candidiasis.
Finally, the large group of molds remains to be mentioned. These types of fungi can also cause serious infectious diseases in humans, including severe fungal pneumonia. One of the most important representatives of the mold is the Aspergillus fumigatus.
Read more on this topic at: How contagious are yeasts? and yeast infection
When diagnosing a yeast infection, it all comes down to which area of the body is affected. The oral thrush that often occurs in immunocompromised people, for example, is typical of them whitish color a visual diagnosis in the area of the mouth and throat and usually does not need to be further clarified.
Pneumonia caused by fungi often has a blotchy character on the X-ray. Although this is initially not proof, it is an indication that this could be a fungal disease. Evidence is provided here by means of a laboratory analysis of the Sputums (coughed up secretion).
If you want proof of an oral / esophageal thrush, you have to Swab of the throat with a cotton swab and send it to the laboratory. The sample is applied to a culture medium and incubated for several days. If the typical structures of a fungus grow on the culture medium within a few days, this is proof of the fungus in question.
There is also often a fungal infection of the gastrointestinal tract. Evidence is provided here by a Stool samplewhich is also sent to a laboratory and incubated on a culture medium according to the smear. Here, too, the result is known after a few days. It should be noted, however, that quick proof is not possible within a few hours and you have to wait at least 3-4 hours until proof is provided. If in doubt, i.e. if the patient is in poor condition, treatment should be started beforehand.
Fungi can cause very different symptoms. Here, too, the decisive factor is which area of the body is affected. In the case of an inflammation of the esophagus caused by thrush (Thrush esophagitis) there is difficulty swallowing, itching and burning of the mouth and throat, taste disorders, loss of appetite and the typical whitish coating of the mouth and throat area.
When the feet are infected by dermatophytes, reddish, open and burning areas of the skin between the toes occur. (see How to recognize athlete's foot)
Pneumonia caused by a fungus usually results in a strong and productive cough (with sputum) that does not respond to any antibiotics. Since a viral infection can always be behind it, the suspicion of fungal pneumonia usually arises relatively late.
Fungal infections of the gastrointestinal tract often cause no symptoms at all. Some patients report recurring diarrhea and a lot of air in their stomach. But that is not proof. There are studies that prove that many people also have a fungal attack in the intestine that does not cause any symptoms, is harmless and does not require treatment.
Probably the most difficult course is a fungal infection of the blood. One also speaks of one Fungal sepsis. In this case, mushrooms of whatever kind got into the bloodstream and caused blood poisoning. The symptoms are very high fever, general condition deterioration and weakness. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death of the patient.
The treatment of fungi is through the drug group of the so-called Antifungal drugs secured. They are not antibiotics in the classic sense, but rather belong to the fungal medicines due to their slightly different mode of action.
A different mushroom medication is used depending on the type of mushroom. Most fungal medications work by inhibiting an enzyme that is necessary for the fungus to build up cells. As a result of this inhibition, the fungus perishes and can no longer multiply. This group of effects includes drugs such as Morpholines, Pyrroles and Azoles (e.g. Clotrimatzol - Canesten®).
The so-called pore formers, to which amphotericin and Nystatin belong, ensure that the cell membrane of the fungus is broken and that it dies as a result.
Then there are drugs that inhibit the cells' DNA synthesis and thus ensure that the fungus perishes and cannot multiply any further. Belongs to this class of substances 5-fluorocytosine.
The drugs should be used consistently for a few weeks. Sometimes it is necessary to take the medication systemically (i.e. in the form of a tabletthat works throughout the body). In other areas, e.g. with a skin fungus, an application as ointment out. The active ingredient nystatin is mainly used here.
Please also read our article on this Anti-fungal medication
Candida Albicans is a yeast fungus. It is a mushroom that belongs to the so-called facultative pathological Fungi belongs to pathogens that only cause damage under certain conditions. Yeasts are often found on and in the human body and do not need to be treated and do not cause any disease. Candida albicans infection is commonly referred to as candidiasis.
Especially in immunocompromised patients, such as HIV patients or patients with severe comorbidities (diabetes mellitus), Candida albicans can lead to the onset of an illness. Candid mycosis, which can cause discomfort on the skin, should be mentioned, while thrush infections can occur in the intestine or in the esophagus and throat. Treatment for a candida infection is done through Nystatin or Fluconazole.
Candida sepsis should be avoided in any case, as it is a life-threatening condition that needs to be treated quickly. Candida fungi can often remain on the skin or on the mucous membranes for years and cause no symptoms. At some point and for certain reasons, they then multiply excessively, so that the own immune system can no longer keep the pathogen in check. There is then an outbreak of disease that needs to be treated.
Please also read our article on this Candidiasis or yeast in the vagina