What Is Candidemia?

Candidemia is a bloodstream infection caused by the fungus Candida. Candida is a type of yeast that usually lives in small amounts on the skin and in other parts of the body, including the digestive tract and the vagina. Normally, it does not cause any harm. But in certain cases, Candida can overgrow and enter the bloodstream, leading to the infection.

Causes of Candidemia

Candidemia often occurs in people who are already very ill and have weak immune systems. It can be caused by certain medications, such as antibiotics, that kill off other germs in the body and allow Candida to overgrow. People who are hospitalized, especially those in intensive care units, are more likely to get candidemia than those who are not.

Symptoms of Candidemia

Many people who get candidemia have few or no symptoms — the infection can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. But some people may experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Red spots on the skin
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches

Treatment for Candidemia

Candidemia is usually treated with antifungal medications, such as fluconazole, itraconazole, and voriconazole. Treatment usually lasts for two to four weeks, and may need to be longer if the person is severely ill or if the infection affects a vital organ, such as the brain or eyes.

Preventing Candidemia

The best way to prevent candidemia is to practice good hygiene and keep the immune system strong. Avoiding smoking and medically unnecessary antibiotics, as well as eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of rest, can help to keep the immune system strong.