Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What is Candida?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida. Some species of Candida can cause infection in people; the most common is Candida albicans. Candida normally lives on the skin and inside the body, in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina, without causing any problems.
Yeast may normally be present in small quantities on the skin in the mouth and intestine. While small quantities of yeast may be normal, yeast observed in higher quantities is considered abnormal.
My 2 Go-To Tests to see if yeast overgrowth is present: GI MAP Functional Stool Test Analysis and Organic Acid Test (urine). You can order them here if you want to know if you have yeast overgrowth and schedule a consultation with Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP after.
Microscopic examination can reveal yeast on the analysis of stool. The microscopic finding of yeast in the stool is helpful in identifying whether the proliferation of fungi such as Candida albicans is present. Yeast is normally found in very small amounts in a healthy intestinal tract. While small quantities of yeast reported as none or rare may be normal yeast observed in higher amounts (few, moderate to many, is considered abnormal).
In a healthy body, an overgrowth of intestinal yeast is prohibited by beneficial flora (good bacteria), intestinal immune defense secretory IgA, and intestinal pH.
Beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus colonize in the intestines and create an environment unsuitable for yeast by producing acids such as lactic acid which lowers intestinal pH (makes intestines more acidic and hard for yeast to survive). Also, lactobacillus is capable of releasing antagonistic substances such as hydrogen peroxide, lactocidin, lactobacillin, and acidolin.
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
Many factors can lead to an overgrowth of yeast including frequent use of:
- antibiotics leading to insufficient beneficial bacteria;
- synthetic corticosteroids;
- oral contraceptives;
- diets high in sugar.
Under the influence of the above factors on the intestinal mucosa, the balance of microflora is disturbed, while Candida develops overgrowth, an increase in the permeability of the intestinal barrier occurs, and therefore various toxins enter the bloodstream from the intestine. This is fraught with a disruption in the functioning of the immune system and the development of autoimmune diseases.
Among the “nutritional” causes of candidiasis: excessive consumption of sugars, yeast products, dairy and gluten-containing products, alcohol.
Candidiasis affects the skin and mucous membranes more often after taking large doses of antibacterial drugs, against the background of immunodeficiency, in obese people (armpits, groin, folds under the mammary glands), in cancer patients. In such cases, the diagnosis is based on the data of the clinical picture and the identification of yeast and pseudohyphae in the study of scraping from the lesion.
Candidiasis can occur in completely healthy people after a vacation at the sea, in an area of increased dampness, in such cases, therapy gives a quick effect, but one should not forget about the need to follow a diet rich in foods with B vitamins, lingonberries, coconut oil, ginger, garlic, it is also recommended to eliminate sugar and gluten.
Symptoms of Yeast Overgrowth
Although there is a wide range of symptoms that can result from intestinal yeast overgrowth some of the most common includes:
- brain fog;
- recurring vaginal or bladder infections;
- sensitivity to smells, perfumes, chemicals, environment;
- mood swings;
- sugar and carbohydrate cravings;
- gas, bloating;
- constipation or loose stool.
- a white coating on the tongue;
- frequent colic in the abdomen.
Manifestations on the skin may be absent, but the growth of Candida in the body complicates the treatment of acne, provokes rosacea, and often provokes allergic rashes.
How Can you Tell if you Have Candida Overgrowth?
There are two very useful tests that can shed the light on the yeast overgrowth in the intestine: GI MAP Functional Stool Test Analysis and Organic Acid Test (urine).
A positive yeast culture mycology and sensitivity to prescriptive and natural agents are helpful in determining which antifungal agents to use as part of a therapeutic treatment plan for chronic colonic yeast. However, yeast is a colonizer and does not appear to be dispersed uniformly throughout the stool. Yeast may, therefore, be observed microscopically but not grow out on culture even when collected from the same bowel movement.
How is Candida Overgrowth Treated?
Unfortunately, there is no cookie-cutter approach. Many people out of despair pick up some supplements that promise yeast elimination or “cure”. Gut cleanses, yeast cleanses, etc. can be seen in multiple BIZ OP (business operations) ads on Google. Just Google “yeast cleanse” and see how many times in the next week you will get all kinds of offers to get healed by taking some supplements.
At best, these supplements decrease somewhat the yeast overgrowth, but they may have subpar quality herbs, and the supplements do not pinpoint the cause of the yeast overgrowth.
Treatment depends on the severity, the lab results, and the patient’s symptoms.
It also depends on the CAUSE of yeast overgrowth, because if you cannot pinpoint the cause, the yeast overgrowth will come back and with time you may develop resistance to certain herbs if you use the same ones a lot.
There are other ways to test for Candida via blood and traditional labs but, they may not be as accurate as the functional lab testing.
They also will not point to WHAT is the cause of the yeast overgrowth!
There are different ways to test for fungal overgrowth and the lab reports HAVE to be correlated with the symptoms! There is no 100% accurate test. Stool test will only take into consideration the yeast presence only in the gut, but not anywhere else.
Here is an example of the stool test positive for Candida.
If you think you may have yeast or Candida overgrowth based on your symptoms, I would definitely check for it!
Treatment of Candida overgrowth begins, first of all, with a yeast-free diet: sugar, honey, alcohol, sweet fruits and berries, sweet vegetables, gluten-containing cereals, white rice, dairy products are excluded from the diet.
The diet is combined with the use of antimycotics (antifungal drugs) as prescribed by a doctor (you cannot take it yourself) or with anti-fungal herbs and restoration of the intestinal microflora. Often, in addition to the typical manifestations of thrush, other symptoms may not occur. These symptoms of rashes, brain fog, diarrhea or constipation are vague and not definitive of Candida. Nevertheless, a lot of times a myriad of symptoms disappear with the proper identification and treatment of the issue. With thrush, patients are worried about a burning sensation in the genital area, curd plaque, or discharge. With topical localized treatment, the symptoms subside, but after a while, they may reappear. Only by addressing the yeast overgrowth in the intestinal microbiota together with topical treatment if needed, the problem can be dealt with.
The best prevention of yeast overgrowth is the treatment of the underlying pathology (cause), if possible – the drugs that cause Candida overgrowth should be stopped, if not – preventive measures, diet, anti-fungal herbs, etc. As an example: if there are metabolic disorders (extra weight), then weight loss will already lead to the fact that there is will be no Candida overgrowth in between the skin folds where it usually thrives. Watching the diet helps to decrease the sugar cravings too.
Do you notice constant fatigue or digestive problems? Are you worried about thrush or skin problems or acne and dermatitis? You cannot live without sweets and starchy foods or have you recently taken a course of antibiotics? Most likely you have Candida overgrowth. To be sure, get the necessary testing done, discuss the results with your healthcare practitioner, and, if necessary, undergo treatment. If you need more guidance and help, contact Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP, IFMCP to see if she can help.