What is Candida?
This is a topic that nobody likes to talk about. However, the fact is that most of us have experienced a fungal infection. One of the main fungal infections is called candida. Most of the candida in our bodies is found in the mouth and intestines. Under normal circumstances, it is harmless. However, once candida starts to overproduce, it can cause an infection. This is the most common type of fungal infection. (2) In this article, we will discuss some risk factors for candida. We will also discuss seven signs of candida, and how you can treat it. Let’s discuss this.
What Are the Risk Factors for Candida?
Many different issues can lead to candida. Here are some common risk factors for candida:
- Taking Antibiotics
- Eating Foods High in Sugar
- Compromised Immune System
- Oral Contraceptives
Antibiotics are great for fighting infections. However, they do have risks as well. This is because they also kill “good” bacteria. Many doctors suggest taking probiotics after taking antibiotics. Probiotics help to restore the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. (20)
Foods that are high in sugar decrease the function of our immune system. Sugar also provides food for the candida to grow. Therefore, they leave us susceptible to candida infections as well.
Oral contraceptives can lead to candida because they contain estrogen. Elevated estrogen levels are known to promote the growth of yeast. (17)
Diabetics have high blood sugar levels. This is a problem because they feed the candida yeast cells. Another reason is that diabetics generally have weak immune systems. Weak immune systems make it difficult for your immune system to fight off disease.
Stress changes the microorganisms in your gut. This raises your blood sugar and weakens your immune system. Therefore, resulting in candida overgrowth. (18)
We’ve discussed what candida is and what factors can lead to it. Now we will move onto the symptoms that suggest you have candida. Here is a list of some signs of candida.
- Oral Thrush
- Yeast and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Digestive Issues
- Sinus Infections
- Skin and Nail Fungal Infections
- Joint Pain
Now that we have named what the symptoms are, we will discuss each of the individual signs of candida.
First of the signs of candida is oral thrush is when you have candida in your mouth. This happens very often with babies, especially newborns. It is also very common in geriatric patients and anyone with a compromised immune system. (3) Additionally, those who have poor dental hygiene can develop it.
The symptoms of oral thrush are:
- White Patches in Mouth
- Sore or Red Mouth
- Sore or Red Tongue
- Pain or Difficulty Swallowing
Thrush also may infect a baby’s buttocks. It will look like a diaper rash, only the normal diaper rash remedies won’t work. Now that we’ve discussed oral thrush, we will move onto the next symptom.
The next of the signs of candida is tiredness and fatigue are the two most common symptoms reported with candida. Although candida has not been proven to cause fatigue directly, it is definitely associated with it. We know there are a few ways that may connect them. Candida can cause the following deficiencies:
- Vitamin B6
- Essential Fatty Acids
Magnesium deficiency has been proven to cause fatigue according to several studies. (4) Another factor is if you have a compromised immune system. A poor functioning immune system can leave you feeling very tired. In fact, there have been studies that if you experience candida long-term, it can develop into chronic fatigue syndrome. (5)
Now that we’ve discussed fatigue, we will move onto our next symptom of candida.
Yeast and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Approximately 75% of all women develop a vaginal yeast infection in their life. (1) Symptoms can include an increased frequency of urination, a burning sensation when you urinate, or a fever. Some even feel tired and achy all throughout their bodies. Other symptoms are itching and a thick white discharge from the vagina. Although it is much less common, men do develop genital yeast infections as well.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) have symptoms such as a burning feeling when you urinate, increased frequency of urinating, and strange-smelling urine. You may also experience pain in your lower abdomen. Urinary tract infections often occur in the elderly, hospitalized or immune-compromised individuals. (6) If you suspect that you suffer from candida overgrowth, you should have your urine tested by your doctor.
Now that we’ve discussed yeast and urinary tract infections, we will move onto the next symptom.
The key to digestive health is balance. You must balance “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. The “good” bacteria help to digest starch, fiber, and sugar. However, when your gut bacteria is imbalanced, you will experience constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, and bloating. Research also shows that candida overgrowth is connected to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease as well. (7)
Now that you know digestive issues are a signs of candida, we will discuss the next symptom.
Signs of Candida – Sinus Infections
Sinusitis is defined as inflamed sinuses. (8) It is caused by an infection sometimes. However, there are a few types of them. These include:
Acute sinus infections last up to 4 weeks. Subacute sinus infections last approximately 12 weeks. Chronic sinus infections continue for months or years. Lastly, there are recurrent sinus infections which include several attacks a year. (8)
All of these sinus infections have the same basic symptoms. Those symptoms are a runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of smell and headaches. However, there are some differences. Short term sinus infections are mostly caused by bacteria. However, many long term, chronic sinus infections are fungal. Also, antibiotics are usually how sinus infections are treated. However, this works for acute bacterial sinus infections, but not chronic fungal ones. Keep in mind that if your sinus infections last longer than a month, it is probably because of candida.
Now that you know sinus infections are a symptom of candida, we will discuss our next symptom.
Skin and Nail Fungal Infections
If you have a candida infection and it infects your joints, it can cause arthritis. (10) Many times this occurs after you have surgery or have had an undetected infection for a while. The common symptoms of candida arthritis are pain, swelling, and stiffness of your joints. (10) Your hips and knees are the most common areas that it occurs. In rare conditions, candida can cause bone and joint infections as well. This causes pain and tenderness wherever you are infected.
Now that we’ve discussed all of the symptoms of candida, we will discuss how to treat it.
How to Treat Candida
The most effective way to treat candida is to make sure you get to the root of the problem. For candida, that means that the food you eat is going to be very important. This is because eating has a major effect on the balance of your “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Generally, you want to stay away from refined sugars, carbohydrates, and dairy products. This is because those foods allow candida to flourish. If you eat too many of these products, it can encourage an infection. This is especially true if you have a weak immune system.
Also, there are certain nutritional items that help to fight off candida infections. These items include:
- Coconut Oil
- Aloe Vera
- Pau d’ Arco
- Olive Leaf Extract
Coconut oil helps fight off candida because it is an anti-fungal product. Several studies have shown that coconut oil is effective at treating candida. (12)
There have also been studies showing that xylitol helps to fight off candida. This is because xylitol makes it so candida can’t stick to anything and cause infection. (11)
Curcumin’s effect on candida has also been studied. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal product that stops the growth of yeast infections. The research shows that it kills candida and reduces its growth (13)
Aloe Vera has many different uses. One of them is that it prevents fungal infections. This is because it boosts the white blood cells’ ability to kill yeast cells. (16)
Garlic has been shown to fight off candida as well. (14) In a 2006 study, scientists tested garlic against 18 candida strains. It was proven that garlic stops the growth of the candida fungus. This is the fungus that is responsible for yeast infections. (15)
Additionally, the plant compounds that are found in pomegranate are a high source of anti-fungal activity. This makes it a natural candida fighter. (19)
Pau d’ arco is helpful because it contains an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent in it.
Lastly, the olive leaf extract is a powerful healer of microbial infections.
Many times dietary changes do help to treat candida. However, sometimes it is not effective. In this case, you should see your primary care physician. Anti-fungal drugs may be needed. If you leave candida untreated, it will reach your bloodstream. Then it will start to affect your brain and heart.
Signs of Candida – Summary
The most common cause of fungal infections is candida. Key symptoms of candida infection are oral thrush, urinary tract infections, digestive issues, and skin fungal infections. Keep in mind, it is important to treat candida even if it is a minor infection. This is because if it is left untreated it can develop into something much more serious.