What is Candida?
Candida Albicans is a type of fungus that lives on and in the body. There are many types of fungi living on and in the body at any time, including some types of yeasts known as Candida.
In a healthy person, a small amount of Candida is found on the skin as well as in the digestive tract including the mouth and intestines.
The problem occurs when Candida becomes overgrown, taking over the digestive system and wreaking havoc on a person’s overall health. This infection is known as Candidiasis.
How do you get it?
In a healthy individual, Candida is present in small amounts and is controlled and kept in check by healthy bacteria in and on the body. When the healthy bacteria become compromised, Candida can overproduce and cause symptoms.
There are many factors that may be related to fungal infections. Some of the most common risk factors include:
Taking antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and some other medications that injure or disrupt the gut biome
Eating a diet that is high in sugars, starches, and refined carbohydrates including gluten
High alcohol intake
Weakened immune system or pre-existing conditions that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes
High stress levels, especially over a prolonged period of time
Many doctors don’t connect the dots and discover the true cause of illness is Candida overgrowth.
What are some the major symptoms?
A Candidiasis infection is the mouth or throat is call oral thrush or simply thrush. It is common with infants and can be painful and cause excessive crying. It can be especially frustrating for mothers who breast-feed. Adults with poor oral hygiene or removable dentures are also more susceptible to thrush.
People suffering from oral thrush typically develop white bumps or patches on their tongues, inside of the cheeks, gums, tonsils, and into the throat. These lesions are painful and may bleed when disturbed. This may cause difficulty eating and drinking normally.
If left untreated, oral thrush can spread further down the throat and into the esophagus where the pain may become more severe and lead to difficulty swallowing.
It is not clear if Candidiasis itself causes fatigue, but the many factors that contribute to an overgrowth of Candida also cause significant feelings of fatigue and tiredness. Therefore it is one of the most commonly associated symptoms of a Candida infection.
Three major contributing factors to both Candidiasis and fatigue include:
Nutritional Deficiencies including vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, and magnesium. It is important to note that these deficiencies are also linked to depression and anxiety, which can also commonly present with Candidiasis.
Weakened Immune System can be a risk factor is two major ways. First of all, people with a condition which causes a weakened immune system are more susceptible to fungal infections. Secondly, use of antibiotics, especially prolonged use, destroys the healthy bacteria of the gut and increases the risk of fungal infections, which antibiotics themselves do not treat.
A recent study has shown that Candida infections are one cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. Currently, it is not common practice to test sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome for fungal infections and this underlying cause may go untreated.
Genital or Urinary Tract Infections
In a healthy individual, a small amount of Candida is usually found in the reproductive and urinary systems.
An overgrowth of Candida in the vaginal tract can lead to candidiasis of the vagina, known as a yeast infection. These are very common fungal infections and it is estimate that more than 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime and more than 40% will have at least one recurrence. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse, and a thick white discharge with an unpleasant smell. Men can also suffer from a genital yeast infection but it is much less common.
Candida can also cause a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), although this is also less common. UTIs are more commonly caused by another pathogen, such as E. coli. Fungal UTIs are usually seen in people who are elderly, hospitalized, or immune compromised. Anyone who suffers from prolonged or reoccurring UTIs may consider testing for Candidiasis. Symptoms of a UTI include a frequent urge to urinate, burning sensation or pain during urination, pain in the lower abdomen, or a dark, cloudy, strange-smelling urine.
Digestive Heath Issues
Healthy individuals have a healthy supply of good bacteria in the gut. This bacteria not only keeps pathogens at bay, they also breakdown foods to aid in digestion. These bacteria help to digest carbohydrates including starch, fiber, and sugar.
Symptoms of Candidiasis in the gut include constipation or diarrhea (sometimes cycling between the two), nausea, gas, and abdominal cramps and bloating.
Recent studies have shown that Candida infections are a cause of several diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Chronic Sinus Infections
Sinus infections can be caused by bacteria and viruses, but chronic and reoccurring sinus infections may be caused by Candida. Sinus infections cause a runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of taste and smell, headaches, and pain in the face.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat bacterial sinus infections; although they would actually worsen the condition in the case of a fungal infection.
A recent study found that of 210 people who experienced chronic sinus infections, 96% of them had fungus present in their mucus. If you have had a sinus infection for longer than one month or an infection which is not treated by antibiotics, Candida may be the cause.
Skin and Nail Infections
In healthy individuals, candida lives on the surface of the skin in small amounts, and just as good bacteria keeps Candida in check within the gut, bacteria on the skin prevent fungal infections from taking over. A change in the temperature, moisture, or pH of the skin can cause good bacteria to weaken and Candida to take over.
Therefore, areas of the skin that are warm and moist, such as the armpits and groin, are more susceptible to fungal infections.
Fungal infections of the nails and toenails can also be caused by yeast. Athlete’s Foot is a common fungal infection of the feet and toes and is common in athletes as well as people with weakened immune systems.
Once Candida overtakes the gut, it can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body and infect the organs and joints. This is usually only seen after surgery or if the fungal infection is not treated for a long period of time.
Hips and knees are most commonly affected by Candidiasis of the joints. Symptoms include paid, stiffness, and inflammation of the joint.
How serious is it?
Candidiasis is not only treatable, many people can improve their symptoms significantly by simply making a few lifestyle changes. Most people can eliminate the infection entirely and return their gut health to normal through lifestyle changes alone.
However, if left untreated the infection can become serious, especially in those with a significantly compromised immune system. If the fungal infection spreads to the organs or blood, it can cause blindness, fevers, shock, organ failure, and death.
A timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan can keep Candidiasis from progressing to this severity.
How to find out if you have it?
Candidiasis diagnosis is not always an easy task. The best bet is to assess your symptoms and begin making lifestyle changes to improve symptoms if you feel you may be suffering from Candidiasis.
In order to get an official diagnosis, you will need to get a lab test. It may be easier to find a provider who will order these tests if you see a naturopathic or holistic doctor.
Candida Antibodies Test is a test to look for the antibodies your immune system makes in response to a Candida infection. This is a blood test and must be ordered by a doctor. It is possible to get a false negative for this test and your doctor may order a comprehensive stool analysis in conjunction with the antibodies test to better understand your gut health.
Comprehensive Stool Analysis typically includes collecting a sample over the course of a few days and having them sent to a lab for testing. The sample will be analyzed for levels of yeast, pathogenic bacteria, healthy gut bacteria, pH and inflammation markers, and other signs of fungal overgrowth and digestive health.
Organic Acid Test includes testing a urine sample for the organic waste products produced by fungus which exits the body through the urine. The human body does not make these waste products, so the amount found in the urine provides a look at how much Candida is present in the system. This test can be ordered by a doctor but is sometimes available for purchase at a pharmacy for home testing.
Questionnaires are an excellent way to assess your risk factors, lifestyle factors, and symptoms to make a self-diagnosis. There are questionnaires available online that can help you to evaluate your gut health.
The Spit Test is a common method of self-diagnosis. In this test, you spit in a glass of room-temperature filtered water immediately upon waking before eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. The three signs of candida can be seen after 15-60 minutes and include:
Strings of saliva coming down through the water from the top
Cloudy saliva sitting at the bottom of the glass
Opaque specks of saliva suspended in the water.
The problem with this test is that this test is really just testing the consistency of the mucus of the mouth and these results can also be caused by other factors include dehydration, allergies, and eating certain foods the day before, such as dairy. This is not to say that the test is not helpful, but the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of Candida yeasts in and on the body. It can present in many locations and cause a variety of symptoms, including causing a secondary illness. It can be difficult to obtain an official diagnosis of Candidiasis, and tests need to be ordered by your doctor to receive an official diagnosis. However, Candidiasis can typically be treated at home by reducing lifestyle risk factors. I can help you conquer candida with my cleanse check it out in my product section. Stay Bless and Stay healthy. Gain your life back with herbs.