Candida infection in healthy people can be diagnosed clinically i.e. by visual inspection without laboratory tests. Tests are usually done if the infection won't go away, involves the entire body or if you are immune-compromised (have a weak immune system).
Vaginal candidiasis: If you have symptoms suggestive of vaginal yeast infection, your doctor will do a complete gynaecologic exam. This will include a speculum exam to examine the vagina. During this exam, a speculum (a metal or plastic device) is inserted in your vagina to open and spread the walls of your vagina so that the cervix (the mouth of your womb) and vagina are seen. It may be uncomfortable because of pressure against the tissues. A swab of the discharge can be taken during this examination and if needed, a specimen of the vaginal discharge may be taken for cultures to rule out other diseases. Potassium hydroxide test is done on the swab specimen to look for candida under microscope. If candida is found on microscopic examination, a specific branching pattern may be seen. As a part of the examination, the doctor may do a pelvic examination with fingers. In this examination, the doctor inserts two fingers into your vagina to check the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and surrounding areas to check for any tenderness or other problems. If needed, blood and urine tests may be done. Your doctor may advice you to avoid douching or have sexual intercourse 1-2 days before the exam as it may make examination and diagnosis difficult.
Oral candidiasis: This can be diagnosed in healthy children and adults by visual inspection of the mouth. If the diagnosis is not clear, the doctor may take a small scraping of the area. The specimen is examined under the microscope with potassium hydroxide and examined for a specific branching pattern characteristic of yeast (candida).
Candida infection in people with impaired immunity: In immune-compromised people (people with weak immune system), oral, vaginal and skin candida infections can be diagnosed clinically. Blood tests and culture may be done to confirm the diagnosis and severity of infection. In people with invasive candida infection, tests such as blood and urinary culture and catheter tip culture (culture of tip of urinary catheter if you have a catheter) may be done. If brain infection is suspected, CT scan or MRI scan may be done.
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