What is Candida (albicans)?
Every year thousands of people are affected by a condition called candidiasis. It is caused by Candida albicans. This microorganism is often referred to as simply candida. Find out more about its nature and the forms in which it grows.
This is a type of fungus belonging to the family of eukaryotic microorganisms. It lives in the human body. It is found in the gastrointestinal tract, in the mouth and on the skin. It is part of the intestinal flora. The intestinal flora is a system of different types of microorganisms. The role of these microorganisms is to aid metabolic processes in the body. They have a commensal relationship. This means that the microorganisms of the intestinal flora do not have an adverse effect on the human body and that it does not have such an effect on them either.
Candida has a simple structure and grows via budding. New cells grow as a result of the division of existing cells. This is the typical method of reproduction of microorganisms. It is very basic, but highly effective. The growth process can be speeded up depending on the conditions of the surrounding environment.
In the case of candida, there are several factors which can stimulate the growth process and increase its rate. The first one is temperature. When the temperature increases up to a certain threshold, the growth rate of these microorganisms rises accordingly. Another stimulating factor of the environment is moisture. In general, these fungi live in moist environments. The major factor that speeds up the growth rate of these microorganisms is the lack of acid. When the environment which they are in becomes less acidic, they multiply more rapidly.
There are two forms in which candida grows. The first form involves multiple individual cells that create small clusters. These fungi can also have filamentous cell growth. They form the so called hyphas. These are long structures with a long main branch and many smaller ones coming out of it. When looked under a microscope, these structures look very similar to tree branches.
This condition, which is formally known as candidiasis, is caused by overgrowth of the fungus in the human body. As explained earlier, overgrowth occurs due to temperature increase and drop in the acidic level. That is why infection typically occurs in the mouth and throat or in the genital area of the human body. Less often, particularly in babies, it occurs on the skin around the bottom area. In such cases, it is commonly known as diaper rash.
In general, the human body has its own natural ways of controlling the overgrowth of yeast. When it is weakened, these control functions are not performed as effectively as usual. That is why the condition is more likely to affect people with impaired immune system. In such cases, it is typically harder to treat as well.
Although candida plays a role in important metabolic processes in the human body, it can be dangerous in the case of overgrowth. That is why it is important for people to look after their health so that the optimal balance of these and other microorganisms in the body can be maintained.