Systemic Candida Treatments
Candida is a categorization of more than 150 yeast species, of which about six cause infections in people. Yeast overgrowth commonly occurs in people who have weakened immune systems or who are on drug therapy, such as antibiotics and corticosteroids. Candida albicans is the species that is usually implicated in yeast and fungal infections, also called candidiasis. Focal candidiasis can spread through the body in the blood and lymph to become a life-threatening systemic infection.
Implications of Systemic Candidiasis
An article in "Critical Reviews in Microbiology" estimates that 15 percent of focal candidiasis becomes systemic within patients with severely reduced immune function, and 40 percent of those cases result in death from the widespread infection of vital organs. Vital organs most often affected include the brain, heart and kidneys, which suffer encephalitis, endocarditis and nephritis, respectively.
Fluconazole -- Diflucan
According to FungusFocus.com, fluconazole is the antifungal of choice when it comes to systemic candidiasis, because it's effective and relatively nontoxic and is the only antifungal agent that can pass the blood-brain barrier and treat central nervous system infections. Some Candida species have developed resistance to fluconazole, however, which is why it is often used in combination with other antimicrobial drugs.
Voriconazole -- Vfend
Voriconazole is a newer drug similar to fluconazole and marketed as Vfend. Voriconazole is used on Candida species that are resistant to fluconazole, although it is a little more toxic to the liver. Voriconazole is considered "salvage therapy" for use against rare but serious fungal infections that don't respond to other drugs, as noted in "Fungal Infection: Diagnosis and Management."
Itraconazole -- Sporanox
Itraconazole, which is marketed under the brand name Sporanox, is another antifungal used against fluconazole-resistant Candida strains. Itraconazole is often used to treat fungal infections of the nail beds, but FungusFocus adds that it is a good candidate for systemic candidiasis also.
Flucytosine -- Ancobon
Flucytosine, which is the antifungal component in Ancobon, has demonstrated excellent ability to kill Candida species, although many strains are quick to become resistant to it. For this reason, flucytosine is often combined with fluconazole and/or Amphotericin-B.
Amphotericin-B is a fungicidal drug and classified as a polyene. It can kill a wide range of Candida species and strains, but it is considered the most toxic antimicrobial in clinical use. Amphotericin-B is not absorbed in the intestines and must be administered intravenously to treat systemic infections, as noted by the DoctorFungus.com. Amphotericin is used less now because of its liver toxicity and is often combined with other antifungal agents.
Caspofungin -- Cancidas
Caspofungin is a relatively new type of fungicide with minimal toxicity and is the medicinal component in Cancidas. It's very effective against all Candida strains and may soon be the drug of choice for systemic candidiasis. Cancidas must be administered intravenously.
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