Miss T initially self-treated her burning, itchy and red vagina with citro-soda as she thought it might be a bladder infection. Although many of her symptoms are similar to that of a bladder infection, it seems as if the problem is probably confined to her vagina, involving other structures of the urinary tract like the bladder, ureters and kidneys.
Natural bacteria disturbed
Candida is the most common yeast infection. The vagina, under normal circumstances, has a slighty acidic pH to prevent overgrowth of bacteria and other organisms. This acidic environment is usually established by lactobacillus (a natural ocuring bacteria in the vagina). If, for any reason, the natural bacteria are disturbed, infections may follow.
By taking an antibiotic that was not prescribed for her, miss T most likely started the process of changing the pH of the vagina by disturbing the natural occuring lactobacilli. Candida can quickly grow, causing a uncofortable burning sensation, irritated skin and a slight discharge.
It is important to keep in mind that other conditions like STD's can also cause similar problems, and therefore a proper medical and sexual history is of vital importance. This includes HIV status.
Read: The deadly alliance of STDs and HIV
In Miss T's case excluding other causes is of particular importance as her discharge is usually associated with other types of infections (like bacterial vaginosis). Yeast infections typically have a cottage cheese-like discharge.
Other contributing factors
Treating a vaginal infection properly requires a correct diagnosis of the potential problem. Doctors will do a physical and vaginal examination to establish the cause. Occasionally, when the diagnosis is not apparent, or, after initial treatment, the problem persists, the doctor might consider doing laboratory investigations.
Treating a yeast infection can be done locally (in the vagina) with anti-fungal creams like clotrimazole or fluconazole. If the problem persists after treatment, more investigations will be needed to find if there are other contributing factors.
Men can also suffer from yeast infections, and it can be spread from partner to partner. In Miss T's case her boyfriend, by using condoms, most likely did not get infected.
NOTE: Health24's on-site GP Dr Owen Wiese reveals new cases on Thursdays. The answer is posted with the story on Mondays, or you can get it in our Daily Tip – sign up here.
Previously on What's Your Diagnosis?
What's your diagnosis - Case 1: vomiting and weight loss
What's your diagnosis - Case 2: eye pain
What's your diagnosis - Case 3: strange behaviour and a bullet in the back
What's your diagnosis - Case 4: seeing odd things
What's your diagnosis - Case 5: mysterious lungs
What's your diagnosis - Case 6: runner with seizures
What's your diagnosis - Case 7: swollen knee
What's your diagnosis - Case 8: bloody semen
What's your diagnosis - Case 9: confusing neurological signs
What's your diagnosis - Case 10: diabetic teenager with unusual signs and symptoms
What's your diagnosis - Case 11:bruising with no apparent cause
What's your diagnosis - Case 12: severe tummy pain
What's your diagnosis - Case 13: severe sore throat
What's your diagnosis - Case 14:abdominal pain and swelling
What's your diagnosis - Case 15: the world is spinning
What's your diagnosis? – Case 16: numbness in forearm
What's your diagnosis? - Case 17: burning urine
What's your diagnosis? – Case 18: boy with persistent fever
What's your diagnosis? – Case 19: lady who can't lose weight
What's your diagnosis? – Case 20: chest pain next to breastbone
Image: Candida from Shutterstock
Dr. Owen J. Wiese is Health24's resident doctor. After graduating from Stellenbosch University with additional qualifications in biochemistry and physiology he developed a keen interest in providing medical information through the media.