Fungal infections arise in humans when an invading fungus takes over a region of the body that is too large for the immune system to handle. Fungi may exist in the air, soil, water, and plants, among other places. Some fungus can also be found naturally in the human body. For example, candida albicans is usually not a problem for healthy people but can cause issues for those with suppressed immune systems. Issues can include skin problems, such as diaper rash or ringworm, or more serious diseases such as pneumonia or blood stream infections.
In rare cases, fungi can grow inside the body without our knowledge. This can happen if you are born with a condition called congenital sydrome. With this syndrome, your immune system is not developed properly, which allows fungus to grow inside the body without being destroyed by antibodies. Symptoms include mental retardation, small head size, webbed fingers and toes, and abnormal facial features. The disease can be diagnosed by looking at tissue under a microscope after death. Fungal infections caused by these types of conditions are very difficult to treat and lead to many complications including death.
Most fungal infections start out as a tiny cut or bruise that is not treated properly. Over time this injury develops into something larger that bacteria cannot kill. At this point, the fungus takes over and grows into colonies that destroy bone, muscle, and flesh until they are removed from the body.
Fungi in the form of yeast, mold, or mildew can be found nearly anywhere, including the air, soil, plants and trees, and water. Some varieties can be found on human skin. Fungi grow in chilly, wet environments such as the basement and between walls. Fungi reproduce by releasing microscopic spores (similar to plant seeds) into the air. These spores float around until they find a place to land and grow into more fungi.
The most common fungi that affect people are yeast. Yeast cause problems for people who are immune-compromised because their bodies cannot fight off harmful infections. The two main types of yeast infection are vaginal yeast infection and earlobe yeast infection. Other names for vaginal yeast infection include vulvitis and candidiasis. An earlobe yeast infection also called "athlete's foot" is caused by another type of fungus called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes can grow almost anywhere on the body but most often appear on feet, legs, arms, chest, and head.
People become infected with yeast when their bodies start producing more yeast than can live peacefully with other organisms. For example, if someone has a virus or bacteria infection, their body will try to rid itself of the infection by making more antibodies. If the person is not able to produce enough antibodies, then the virus or bacteria infection will continue to spread out through their body. The same thing happens with fungal infections.
Most types of spores that land on the skin or are breathed into the lungs do not cause illness. A few varieties only infect persons who have one of the following: Immune system weakness (for example, from cancer treatment or AIDS) Lung problems (for example, asthma or cystic fibrosis) Heart problems (for example, heart transplant patients) Neurological problems (for example, people with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease)
However, if the immune system is working properly, any part of the body can be infected. The most common sites of infection are the lungs, skin, kidneys, liver, brain and heart.
Infections can be caused by fungi that people breathe in through their airways (nasal cavity and throat), eat with their food (mouth and esophagus), touch with their hands (skin), drink through their stomachs (gastrointestinal tract), or inject into their bodies with needles (intravenous drug users). Fungi are microscopic plants that grow along with other organisms in soil and decompose organic material. They may also live alone or in groups inside animals or humans.
The majority of fungal infections in people and animals are caused by airborne fungus. Outdoor air has a significant impact on the prevalence of fungal spore levels in interior air, making it the primary source of fungal infections in indoor environments, particularly in hospitalized persons. Airborne fungi can also cause disease by directly invading skin or lungs.
Fungi are single-cell organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi and the phylum Ascomycetes. There are several types of fungi that can grow and reproduce both inside and out-of-doors. Some fungi can be found everywhere, such as mold, while others are limited to certain places such as yeast. Some fungi are harmful while others are beneficial. For example, mushrooms are grown commercially for their liquid content which consists of sugars left over from photosynthesis (organic matter) from plants such as corn. These materials are then converted into edible substances by bacteria and other microorganisms present in the environment.
Outdoor air contains many different kinds of fungi that can enter buildings through doorways, windows, and heating/air conditioning systems. The most common fungi found in outdoor air include Aspergillus spp. , Candida spp. , Cladosporium spp. , Penicillium spp. , and Scopulariosis brevicaulis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 1.5 million distinct species of fungus on Earth, 300 of which cause sickness in humans. Fungal illnesses are frequently caused by ordinary fungus prevalent in the environment. Most fungi are harmless, however others can be damaging to one's health. Some fungal infections can be cured with medicine while others require medical attention.
Fungi are classified as "opportunistic" pathogens because they don't need a human host to survive and spread within its environment. This means that anyone may get them, but not all people who get them will become sick. Risk factors for getting sick include weak immune systems, such as those resulting from cancer treatments, AIDS, or other diseases or disorders that reduce the body's resistance to infection; people who use drugs or steroids that suppress their immune system; premature babies; and those who have been organ transplants or received bone marrow transplants.
The two main types of fungal infections are dermatophytosis (skin disease) and candidiasis (yeast infection).
A fungal culture will assist your doctor in determining whether or not fungi exist in a certain part of your body and, if so, what type they are. Not all of the fungi in your body are hazardous, infection-causing fungus. Your body naturally produces some types of fungi that live in and on you without causing any problems. However, if the amounts become too high or their type changes (for example, from benign to harmful), then it may be necessary to treat the problem.
Fungi are easy to grow in laboratory conditions. By exposing a sample of your blood, urine, or other tissue to special nutrients, the fungus will thrive and grow into several colonies. The doctor can use this information to help diagnose your condition and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.
There are three main classes of antifungals: azoles, polyenes, and echinocandins. All have similar effects on fungi, but they work by dealing with the structure of the fungus differently. Azoles inhibit an enzyme in the fungus' cell membrane called 14α-lanosterol demethylase, which results in increased levels of toxic substances within the cells. Polyenes bind to membranes of the fungus cell wall, altering its permeability to chemicals.