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!