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Esophageal Candidiasis

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Esophageal candidiasis, also known as esophageal thrush, is a fungal infection caused by Candida species, predominantly Candida albicans, which usually lives harmlessly in the gastrointestinal system, mouth, and throat. However, when the balance of microorganisms is upset, Candida can overgrow and cause infection. Individuals with impaired immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, those using immunosuppressive medicines, or those suffering from immunological-compromising illnesses, are more likely to develop the disorder. It can, however, develop in people who do not have a clear immune deficit. Symptoms of esophageal candidiasis include trouble swallowing, soreness or discomfort below the breastbone, nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of food stuck in your throat or chest. Some people may experience fever or unintentional weight loss. Esophageal candidiasis is commonly diagnosed using a physical examination, patient history, and confirmatory tests. Endoscopy, in which a flexible tube with a camera is introduced through the mouth and into the esophagus, provides direct vision of the affected area. During this process, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be collected to confirm Candida presence. Swabs or samples may also be collected to determine which strain of Candida is causing the infection. Antifungal drugs, such as fluconazole, itraconazole, or voriconazole, are commonly used for treatment and can be given orally or intravenously depending on the severity of the infection and the patient's health. Symptoms are usually relieved within a few days of starting antifungal medication. In extreme situations or in people with impaired immune systems, hospitalization may be required for intravenous antifungal therapy. Preventing recurrence entails addressing underlying immune system disorders, practicing proper oral hygiene, and avoiding the use of antibiotics or corticosteroids for extended periods of time when not absolutely necessary. Long-term antifungal medicines or maintenance therapy may be advised for patients with recurrent infections. Esophageal candidiasis, while usually manageable, can cause discomfort and problems if not treated quickly. Seeking medical attention for persistent or worsening symptoms is critical for early diagnosis and treatment.