Fungal Infections
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Fungal Infections






Fungal Infections

Fungi can live in our bodies without causing any problems.  But if a fungal infection occurs when your immune system is weak, it can cause problems. The most common fungal infection in people with cancer is Candida, often called "thrush." If you have a sore mouth from chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment you are more at risk from thrush. You may notice white patches with red and sore skin underneath. It is treated with mouthwashes that contain an anti fungal drug.  Women can also get vaginal thrush, which is treated with anti fungal creams or pessaries.

Less common fungal infections are aspergillosis and pneumocystis. These infections may be a serious problem for people who have very weak immune systems, for example after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Aspergillus can cause a serious chest infection that needs treatment with anti-fungal drugs through a drip. And the pneumocystis bug can cause a serious form of pneumonia called "PCP." This stands for pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Doctors use the drug co-trimoxazole (Septrin) to help prevent or treat it.

Recurrent fungal infections are a common sign of depressed immune function.  The people most likely to be affected are those who have diseases such as diabetes or cancer, those who have been on chemotherapy treatments or who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  Women who use oral contraceptives and people taking antibiotics are at higher risk as well, as are people who are obese and/or who perspire heavily.

Certain types of fungi (most commonly candida and tinea) can infect the skin and/or mucous membranes; they can also grow under the nails, between the toes, or on internal surfaces of the colon and other organs.

Fungal infection of the skin is most common in places where skin tends to be moist and one skin surface is in contact with another, such as the groin area ("jock itch") and between the toes ("athlete's foot").  A type of scalp infection  known as tinea capitis is found mainly in schoolchildren, although adults also may be affected.  Moist, possibly itchy, red patches anywhere on the body can indicate fungal infection.  In babies, a fungal infection can manifest itself as diaper rash that makes the skin bright red in light-skinned babies and darker brown in dark-skinned babies.

Fungal infection of the mouth is referred to as oral thrush, a condition in which creamy-looking white patches form on the tongue and the mucous membranes of the mouth.  If the patches are scraped off, bleeding may result.  This condition is most common in infants and in those with compromised immune systems.

Fungal infection under the nails (paronychia) or between the toes may cause discoloration and swelling, and the nails may become raised above the surface of the nail bed.  In fungal infection of the vagina (yeast infection), a cheesy discharge is present, usually accompanied by intense itching.  

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Ringworm, also known as tinea infection, is a fungal infection of the skin or scalp.  Caused by various species of fungi - mainly microspora, trichophyta, and epidermophyta, it is characterized by the development of small red spots that grow to a size of about one-quarter inch in diameter.  As the spots expand, the centers tend to heal and clear while the borders are raised, red, and scaly, giving them a ring-like appearance.  Like other fungal infections, ringworm can be very itchy.

Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that usually affects the lungs, but can also settle in the ear canal or the sinuses. Sometimes the infection causes no symptoms and is discovered only with a chest x-ray. But the disease can cause alarming symptoms such as coughing up blood, fever, chest pain and difficulty breathing. The fungus that causes the disease is very common and is associated with decaying organic matter - it is found in compost heaps, air vents and airborne dust; it has even been isolated in swimming pools and saunas - but it doesn't usually affect healthy people. You are more vulnerable to aspergillosis if you have a weakened immune system. Infections can be quite serious and hard to treat, even fatal. However, if the infection is localized to a single spot in the lung, it usually progresses slowly. Because pulmonary aspergillosis can be a very serious infection, you should be treated by a pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in lung diseases.


bulletEat a diet of 60 to 70 percent raw foods.  Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and moderate amounts of broiled fish and broiled skinless chicken.
bulletEat plenty of raw garlic, up to 6 cloves a day.
bulletDo not eat any foods containing sugar or refined carbohydrates.  Fungi thrive on sugar.
bulletEliminate those foods from the diet that tend to promote secretion of mucus, especially meat and dairy products.
bulletAvoid cola drinks, grains, processed foods and fried greasy food.
bulletThere are some reports that gargling with tea tree oil diluted with water can help treat oral candidiasis. Generally these gargles (two drops of oil in a tablespoon of water) are used in the morning, night and after meals. They are sometimes swabbed directly on mouth sores (one drop of oil to one drop of water).
bulletGrapefruit seed extract and 1% hydrogen peroxide may also be used in a similar way, but must be more heavily diluted and should NEVER be swallowed. However, these approaches (especially grapefruit seed extract) may irritate the mouth and promote infection. Moreover, they only address the local symptoms of yeast growth and not the underlying causes.
bulletUse tea tree oil topically.

Overall, the best way to naturally treat and prevent fungal infections is to eat healthfully and regularly, avoid excessive sugar intake and avoid or decrease alcohol and cigarette use.

Because many fungal infections develop slowly, months or years may pass before people seek medical attention. But in people with a weakened immune system, fungal infections can be very aggressive, spreading quickly to other organs and often leading to death. The immune system may be weakened by taking drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants), such as chemotherapy drugs or drugs used to prevent rejection of an organ transplant, or by having a disorder such as AIDS.

Several drugs effective against fungal infections are available, but the structure and chemical makeup of fungi make them difficult to kill. Antifungal drugs may be applied directly to a fungal infection of the skin or other surface, such as the vagina or the inside of the mouth. Antifungal drugs may also be taken by mouth or injected when needed to treat more serious infections. For serious infections, several months of treatment are often needed.

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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases or medical problems. This is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. The information is provided for educational purposes only. Nutritional benefits may vary from one person to another.










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