Yeast infections caused by Candida albicans yeast can be quite dangerous in patients with compromised immune system.
A weakened immune system can be caused by an HIV infection, or by other illnesses such as leukemia and Lyme disease. Chemotherapy temporarily damages your immune system. If you have an organ transplant you’ll be taking drugs to repress your immune system.
All these things can make it easier for a yeast infection to take hold. A yeast infection that occurs in a patient with a suppressed immune system can be life-threatening, so you should report any symptoms immediately to your doctor if you have a lowered immune response.
Types of yeast infections that are common among patients with compromised immune systems
- A yeast infection called esophagitis may form in the upper digestive tract, and is extremely common in people with AIDS. This is an infection very similar to thrush, but it extends down from the mouth into the esophagus and stomach. This type of infection can cause painful ulcers that make it too painful to swallow foods and liquids, so there is a danger of becoming dangerously dehydrated. Infections that spread to the intestine can cause malabsorbion of nutrients from food.
- Blood-born Candida infections are also possible in patients with an immune system deficiency, and these infections can spread to the brain, causing changes in behavior or mental functioning. These systemic infections may require hospitalization and treatment by IV antibiotics. Unfortunately, the fatality rate is extremely high in immune-compromised patients.
Any Candida infection in a patient with a compromised immune system, including vaginal yeast infections, must be treated quickly. Women who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment should be particularly cautious about attempting to treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter medicine – a visit to your doctor is a much wiser choice, because it could save your life.