Candida is a fungus that naturally lives inside our body. It is visible to some places in our body like the mouth, tongue, throat, gut, and vagina without causing any harm. It promotes gut health, healthy regulation of digestion, and nutrient absorption. However, an overgrowth of candida in the body can cause an invasive infection that may lead to several types of diseases.
Candidiasis is an infection that is mainly caused by an overgrowth of Candida in the body. It usually targets the mouth and throat since it is one of the places that normal Candida lives on. It can also cause vagina “yeast infection” and skin infection. Invasive candidiasis is a serious infection. It can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, joints, and other parts of the body. Candida overgrowth can also cause “Candidemia”, a bloodstream infection that commonly appeared in people who already had other disease histories.
What does Candida do to the body?When it is dormant in the intestines, it is shaped like individual oval cells.
When it grows stronger and becomes aggressive, Candida sends a kind of web that penetrates the intestinal walls. This violent form causes various diseases and symptoms.
The web roots it sends through the intestinal wall form a “leaky gut”. Which is permeable to various substances that are not supposed to pass through it. Candida also produces toxins that are harmful to body tissues and can reach the joints, thyroid, reproductive organs, and even the brain.
This process creates allergic reactions and inflammation in the body, which further weakens the immune system, while increases the strengthening of Candida. This is a candida infection called “Candidiasis”. “Invasive candidiasis” is able to spread anywhere in the body and do local damage and symptoms. But it is most common in the intestines, vagina, and mouth.
If the infection affects five or more systems in the body, it can lead to “multi-system organ failure”.
The main symptoms it creates:Fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances, cravings for sweets, headaches, pain in muscles and joints, abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhea, gas, bloating, belching, difficulty in losing weight, hair loss, chronic urinary tract infection, sensation Itching, burning or vaginal discharge, tremors and irritability when hungry, aphthae and sores in the mouth, fungus on the tongue, persistent runny nose and phlegm, sore throat, itching in the nose and ears, fungus in the nails.
Types of Candida
Candida GlabrataThis type of Candida can be found as a natural microflora (microorganisms) living in the body. Commonly visible in the gastrointe stinal tract, mouth, and genital area.
It is typically harmless in healthy people. It can be a threat for someone who has a weak immune system due to past illness. People with HIV, receiving cancer treatments, and people who had an organ transplant are the ones who are prone to it.
It is hard to treat Candida Glabrata because it has a strong resistance to some anti-fungal medications.
Candida ParapsilosisThis type of Candida can be found on the skin, well-controlled, and harmless. It also lives in soil and can be found on the skin of other animals.
A healthy immune system can defend the body from having Candida parapsilosis infection.
Candida TropicalisThis type of Candida is the most common harmful fungus. It causes human diseases most often to people living in tropical countries.
Its frequency of this fungus to be invasive disease varies by geography cause 3%-66% of Candidaemia.
Candida Tropicalis mostly associated with people who had cancer. Like leukemia.
Candida AlbicansThis type of Candida can be found as a natural microflora (microorganisms) living in the body. Commonly visible in the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, tongue, and genital area.00000
Usually, it causes no harm or any issues in the body. When overgrowth occurs It can become a problem – an infection.
This candida is the most commonly causing fungal infections to people.
Symptoms of Candida OvergrowthIt may cause different infections in some places of the body. Symptoms may vary depending on where the infection is located. Here are some of the infections caused by Candida overgrowth:
- Thrush – It is visible in the mouth, specifically on the tongue, palate, and around the lips. Thrush causes a whitish surface on some portion of the mouth that when you try to scrape it, an inflamed, red area may appear which may bleed slightly. An indication of it is also a cracked, red, moist area of skin at the corners of the mouth. Thrush patches are painful, but some are not.
- Esophagitis – difficulty or pain in swallowing which may cause chest pain behind the sternum (breastbone).
- Cutaneous candidiasis – a patch of red, moist, tearful skin with blisters or pimples near the infected part of the body.
- Vaginal yeast infections – a vaginal itch, soreness; thick vaginal discharge with a soft texture, burning discomfort around the vaginal opening especially if urine touches the area, and pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse is an indication of having a vaginal yeast infection.
- Deep candidiasis – a bloodstream infection. May cause a wide range of symptoms such as unexplained fever and chills, also a multiple organ failure.
- Stool – an indication of candida in stool are: white, yellow, or brown mucus;
- a white, yellow, or light brown string-like substance; froth or foam, and diarrhea.
- Craving for Sweets
Possible causes of Candida InfectionA person may develop candidiasis if their bacteria are subdued or their immune system is weakened. Here are the common causes of Candidiasis:
- Antibiotic Use – intake of antibiotics may cause an imbalance of microbes inside the body. Which results in Candida overgrowth.
- HIV – a low CD4 count is an indication of HIV. It weakens the immune system causing people to be more prone to Candidiasis.
- Diabetes – high blood sugar levels encourage the yeast to grow.
- Stress – high level of stress may increase the risk of having candida infection.
- Dry mouth
- Birth control pills
- Warm, humid weather
- Acidic body
DiagnosisDoctors may inquire about the patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and recent use of medical treatment such as antibiotics that may weaken the immune system.
Cutaneous Candidiasis can be diagnosed by a simple physical examination. The doctor may take a sample from the patient by gently scraping the involved area. They will examine it under a microscope. The doctor can send the sample for culture preparation. This culture can accurately identify the fungus. It may help specifically to those patients who suffer for the 2nd time after treatment. A blood test may also be necessary.
Vagina Yeast Infection – can be diagnosed by a simple physical examination. The doctor may take a sample from the patient by gently scraping the involved area, they will examine it under a microscope. The doctor may send it also for culture. This culture may help a lot especially to those who suffered for the 2nd time after treatment, to know how it will be managed and treated. Culture can also be determined if you had an undefinable disease that may increase the risk of having an infection.
Candida Esophagitis – The patient may be referred to a specialist who can examine his esophagus with an endoscope. By endoscopy, the doctor will take a sample of tissue from your esophagus for it to be examined in a laboratory.
Deep Candidiasis- the doctor will take a sample of your blood to be observed in a laboratory. It will be observed to know if there is a growth of Candida fungi or other infectious agents.
Stool Test- the doctor may take a stool sample to determine if there is an overgrowth of Candida.
TreatmentThe treatment recommended by the doctor may vary depending on which area that infections appeared:
Thrush- the doctor may give medical treatments including anti-fungal medications; Nystatin (like Mycostatin), and clotrimazole.
A liquid version of Nystatin can be swished, or swallowed by the mouth for mild cases. While clotrimazole can be dissolved in the mouth. Fluconazole (Diflucan) is usually recommended for people who have a severe case of thrush, taking it once a day by the mouth.
Candida Esophagitis – the doctor may give medical treatment like an oral antifungal drug such as fluconazole.
Cutaneous candidiasis – the doctor may recommend a variety of antifungal powders and creams. The affected area must always clean and dry to protect it from a severe case of infection.
Vaginal Yeast Infection – the doctor will recommend treating it with antifungal medications that are applied directly into the vagina. It can be a tablet, creams, or ointments. Medical drugs like; butoconazole (Femstat), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat, Vagistat and others), nystatin (Mycostatin and others), and tioconazole (Monistat-1, Vagistat-1).
Deep Candidiasis – it commonly starts with an intravenous antifungal drug, like voriconazole or fluconazole. For people with very low white blood cell counts, it may need an alternative antifungal drug for treating deep candidiasis.
Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Candida GrowthA holistic approach to prevent or manage candida is an effective way of reducing the chances of having candida overgrowth. Here’s the list of things that you can do to combat or prevent candida overgrowth:
Proper DietDiet considers being an important part of managing the candida in your gut. Eating healthier food will strengthen your immune system. Also, it will balance your candida inside your gut.
For immediate recovery, avoid getting refined sugars to prevent feeding the candida. Increase your fiber source of food because it promotes regular bowel movement. Lessen your intake of carbohydrates. Bring healthy-fat sources of food like extra virgin coconut oil and fish oil to reduce the growth of candida.