Answers to Your Questions About Candida Infections. Candidiasis or Candida is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of fungus belonging to the Candida species. Candida yeasts are normally present in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina without causing symptoms. Sometimes, however, the balance between Candida and normally present bacteria becomes disrupted.
What are the Main Types of Candidiasis?
Candida overgrowth most often occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, on the skin, and in the mouth and throat (thrush) of men, women, and children, and in a woman’s vagina. When it goes unchecked, symptoms of candidiasis can appear.
What Causes Genital Candida?
Genital candidiasis, commonly referred to as a yeast infection, is a common fungal infection, occurring most commonly in women, although men can get a genital yeast infection as well. It is also the cause of “yeast diaper rash” in infants. Although Candida is always present in the body in small amounts, when an imbalance occurs it can grow unchecked and result in symptoms. Causes of genital Candida include hormone imbalances, changes in vaginal acidity, immune suppression (such as from medications like prednisone), and the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that destroy the “good” bacteria that normally keep Candida in check.
What are the Symptoms of Genital Candidiasis?
Women with candidiasis usually experience genital itching or burning, with or without a thick, white vaginal discharge. In men with genital candidiasis, the primary symptom is an itchy rash on the penis. A yeast diaper rash appears as a red, raised rash with satellite pustules; it can be especially bad in the skin creases.
How Likely am I to Get Genital Candidiasis?
Genital candidiasis is very common. Approximately 75 percent of adult women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. Genital candidiasis in men is relatively rare. Genital candidiasis is typically more common in individuals with a weakened immune system, in which case the symptoms are usually more severe. Conditions that can increase a woman’s risk for genital candidiasis include pregnancy, diabetes, and use of broad-spectrum antibiotics or corticosteroid medications.
Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)
Candidiasis of the mouth and throat, oropharyngeal candidiasis, is also known as “thrush.” As in cases of genital candidiasis, when the environment inside the mouth or throat becomes imbalanced, Candida can multiply and symptoms of thrush can appear.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Candidiasis?
People with thrush usually have painless, white patches in the mouth and/or throat. Others can experience pain and inflammation in the mouth and, when the case is severe, cracks at the corners of the mouth can occur.
How Likely am I to Get Oral Candidiasis?
Thrush commonly affects healthy newborns, individuals with dentures, and patients using inhaled corticosteroids. Thrush occurs more frequently and is usually more severe in individuals who have a weakened immune system, particularly in those with AIDS and patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Candida overgrowth also occurs in the gastrointestinal tract. This can often be a result of broad spectrum antibiotic administration that has been shown in both animal and human studies to eliminate more than 80 percent of the total population of normal bacteria. Studies have also shown there may be a connection between recurrent vaginal candidiasis and gastrointestinal candidiasis. Gastrointestinal candidiasis is more common in immune-suppressed individuals but it has also been reported in healthy populations. Individuals who have gastrointestinal candidiasis may also develop what is commonly known as “leaky gut.” In this condition, toxins from Candida and food allergens pass from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream, making you feel “sick all over.”
What are the Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Candidiasis?
Persons with gastrointestinal candidiasis can experience a wide variety of symptoms, making diagnosis difficult. Symptoms can include digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea), fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, sinus congestion, sugar cravings, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, recurrent urinary tract infections, depression, food and chemical sensitivities, sexual dysfunction, sleep problems, and irritability. Because these symptoms can be associated with numerous other conditions, a health-care practitioner should be consulted when the more serious symptoms are being experienced.
How Likely am I to Get Gastrointestinal Candidiasis?
Candidiasis of the gastrointestinal tract was once believed to be rare in persons without risk factors. However, because many of the symptoms observed in gastrointestinal candidiasis are associated with other conditions, it may be underdiagnosed and more common than thought. If you suspect you may have gastrointestinal candidiasis, see your health-care practitioner for an examination.
What Can I Do To Prevent Candidiasis?
Eat a healthy, low-sugar, low-carbohydrate, anti-Candida diet. Avoid foods that are fermented or contain vinegar, yeasts, or molds (such as aged cheese). It is also important to avoid highly processed foods, white flour, sugar, edible fungus (mushrooms), melons, alcohol, soda, and sweetened juices. Limit coffee and tea consumption.
- Take A Probiotic When You Take An Antibiotic
Oral antibiotics can dramatically increase Candida levels in the intestinal tract. It is important to avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, particularly broad spectrum types, for a virally induced infection (such as the common cold) because viruses do not respond to antibiotics. When you must take an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it is a good idea to take a probiotic supplement at the same time to help maintain the body’s normal levels of “friendly” bacteria.* Probiotics consist of various strains of beneficial bacteria that are typically found in the body – such as various Lactobacillus species.
- Consider Dietary Supplements
Although they cannot prevent candidiasis, various dietary supplements can help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, including long-chain fatty acids such as undecylenic or caprylic acid, probiotics, and essential oils such as oregano and rosemary
If you suspect you are struggling with health issues related to candida, please call Flatiron Functional Medicine to schedule an appointment for further testing and treatment today!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.
I have tried some natural antifungals and have really bad die off with it. I went to my doctor and she said that she can prescribe one pill of Diflocan and that will get rid of my thrush. Is that one pill that strong that I am going to have really bad die off? If my doctor will only prescribe one pill of Diflocan for my thrush do I take it and then follow up with natural antifungals since you said it will take 30 days of Diflocan?
This is complex and you really need a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor to work with you to find what herbal regimen or prescription medication works best. One dose of diflucan is highly unlikely to clear fungal dysbiosis. You may try natural anti-fungals but if you are experiencing die-off reactions, you will need to start slowly and work up on dose.
With Candida is it okay to use apple cider vinegar? A lot of places say it helps to kill and balance the gut and then some places you should not. It is confusing to know what to do on this. Also, on the diet it is supposed to be low carb is it okay to incorporate quinoa here and there. I find it hard to do just veggies and meat.
I do not recommend vinegar of any type until the candida is cleared out of the system. Usually grain-free is best initially but many patients can add back cooked whole rice and quinoa with no reactions.
Also, I have been on a candida diet (no apple cider vinegar and low carb, no fruit etc) diet. Had 5 weeks of Diflucan, tried Nystatin, and done a month of oil of oregano plus a parasite killing formula. I am working with a nutritionist. I have increased probiotics. I still am not seeing results with the candida. It seems like everyone I am working with (my doctor, specialist, and nutritionist) aren’t sure how to rid it. What else can I try?
You might be mis-diagnosed. Have them do a breath test to rule out SIBO…
Hi Jill, I have an appointment coming up with my gastroenterologist and wanted to get tested for candida. I called and asked what they do for testing and they said an upper endoscopy. Does this sound right to you? Can’t I just do a three day stool test or blood testing? Also, I had an upper endoscopy about 3 years ago that turned up nothing. I think my real problem is a histamine/mast cell problem but I’m trying to eliminate other factors. I came to this conclusion when I started taking allergy shots this past fall and my “IBS” went ballistic. On the flip side I know people talk about eliminating candida got rid of their allergies. I live in Boulder and if this next Dr. visit doesn’t help you will see me in your office. I really need to figure this out. Do you offer a payment plan? Thank you.
An upper scope will rule out pathology in the esophagus and stomach but is not a substitute for stool testing or organic acids. You will likely need to find a functional medicine doctor to order a stool test, breath test and organic acids.
My functional medicine doctor wants to put me on Candaclear for my Candida and to get rid of any other potential infections since it is antiviral and antibacterial. She said it would also get rid of SIBO and other bacterial infections if I have them. What are your thoughts on this and on Candaclear?
I do not know of any studies showing treatment of SIBO.
Hi Dr. Jill,
Can Candida overgrowth cause iron deficiency anemia?
Any form of dysbiosis can cause malabsorption
Hi Dr. Carnahan,
I’ve read that Candida is usually a symptom of something else. Is it possible for there to be no root cause of Candida such as mold, heavy metals, SIBO, etc and that an overgrowth can simply be caused by overuse of antibiotics alone or is there always a root cause besides just antibiotic use? I know lots of people who have been on numerous antibiotics and don’t have Candida whereas I took one strong antibiotic that led to a bad overgrowth and took numerous ones after that and it keeps getting worse.
Yes, candida is opportunistic and takes advantage of a weakened immune system…
How much does Candida inhibit absorption of vitamins and minerals such as iron and B12? My iron is very low and my B12 is in range but on the low end. I’m just wondering if I can blame the Candida for the iron and B12 being low? If it impacts absorption that significantly or if I need to look into another cause?
Any type of dysbiosis can lead to malabsorption
My doctor prescribed Diflucan 150mg (2 pills a week apart) to try to get my Candida under control. She said it will not completely clear the Candida but that 2 pills of 150mg will get rid of a decent amount of it to where my malabsorption gets better. She said she has had people whose bloating went down somewhat after 2 pills. What are your thoughts?
Hi Sammy – 2 doses of fluconazole will do little to eradicate fungal dysbiosis in the gut
Do you recommend Genova testing for Candida or a different company? Because I haven’t had any luck with them. After struggling with vaginal yeast infections, having a white coated tongue, extreme bloating and fatigue after eating sugar, and insane itching in my ears I saw a functional medicine doctor who diagnosed me with Candida. She ran a blood test for Candida IgG, IgA, and IgM and it was negative. My doctor then ran a stool test through Genova and negative. So then she ordered ONE test through Genova and my yeast/fungal dysbiosis markers are all normal except Citramalic Acid which is in the yellow range but barely. It’s almost in the green. I have gotten verbally attacked by family members saying I don’t have Candida and essentially calling me crazy and it makes me feel so defeated and sad. Is something else causing my vaginal yeast infections, white coated tongue, extreme bloating and fatigue after eating sugar, and itching in my ears?
Hi Rachel, I use Great Plains OAT test, comprehensive stool testing and serum Candida IgA, IgM, IgG to test for candida.
What do you do when you have a patient who has all the symptoms of Candida but it is not showing up on any testing, including blood, stool, and organic acids?
I keep testing until I find the root cause… you may have SIBO
If a patient has Candida and SIBO, would you treat both at the same time?
can candida cause chest congestion every time I try to eat bread or sugars or fruit? I have a lot of other signs of having candida as well. But I was wondering about the food allergies that cause my congestion as being a symptom?
This is possible but there may be many other factors contributing.
I’ve read that Candida takes iron/ferritin from the digestive tract and uses it to grow. Is this true? I have Candida and have low iron and ferritin levels.
Dysbiosis bacterial or fungal causes malabsorption of iron and may lead to chronic low ferritin
Hi Dr. Jill,
I read taking Vitamin C (in the form of absorbic acid) helps get rid of Candida by producing stomach acid since it is absorbic acid. Is this the case?
Vitamin C may help constipation and give the body antioxidant but I do not believe it is effective against candida
Hi, I was wondering if eating a serving of yogurt a day can help get rid of Candida? I don’t mean the sugary yogurts. I mean organic, sugar free yogurt that has live active cultures?
Some types of homemade yogurts can be high enough in probiotic cultures to help but most commercial brands are not.
So as far as drinking goes with candida my 21st birthday ive had planned for some time to a trip to vegas for the obvious what alcohol can i drink that wont effect my candida or do i just have to not drink and or drink and and deal with it
I would not recommend any alcohol
Hello Dr Jill. I was diagnosed with a yeast infection in July and was given 200 mg of fluconazole twice a week for a month ..I’m feeling much better but I’m still having a slight sinus pressure that has gotten better and a slight headache and a slight head irritation In the back part of my head I went to the Dr and he said the yeast infection was behind me and the ENT doctor recommended that I use a sinus rinse and it wasn’t.needes for a ct scan …I’m wondering if these things will resolve on its own or do I need some sort of treatment
If you are still symptomatic ask your doctor for further treatment. Sinus rinses or nasal sprays can be compounded with anti fungal medications
Should I treat Sibo or candida first??
Typically I treat both at the same time with an herbal regimen
Hi Dr Jill, I had 2 types of candidas.This was new to me, never heard of candida before, until I was tested. I begin reading so many articles about candida, tried different things to get rid of it. Some from my doctor and different herbs.i drank this and I swallow pills. Nothing didnt seen to work.i begin to pray and I prayed and prayed consistently for a healing.months went by and I begin to see results , I read healing scriptures.at the time I was still using one of the product, I found on line.Now I’m not saying that the products I use didnt work but what I am saying , God did the healing, and maybe he use it to do so, because when I went back to the doctor 2 times, there were no sign of candida. Ladies go to your doctor but look to God for your healing. I did! Thanks Dr Jill for giving me an opportunity to share.