The symptoms of candida overgrowth in the general population are often overlooked or misdiagnosed because most mainstream physicians do not acknowledge its impact on human health unless they are dealing with a patient who is severely immunocompromised. The reality is that this condition may occur in any male or female if the right conditions are present.
Candida is a yeast (fungus) that under normal circumstances lives in symbiosis on or within the human body along with numerous other microbes and they perform functions that benefit our health like aiding in digestion and absorption. However, if something disrupts the balance of flora in our bodies, then fungi can proliferate and become pathogenic.
Although candida albicans (C. albicans) is the most common form of yeast involved in overgrowth, there are more than 200 different known species that have the potential to be associated with infection, which is referred to as candidiasis. Among those C. glabrata is the second most common at this time. C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. krusei, and C. lusitaniae are also fairly common and C. guilliermondii, C. dubliniensis, C. inconspicua, and C. kefyr are also emerging more often. Within each species, there is a vast array of different strains (genetic variations or subtypes). For example, there are C. albicans SC5314 and M61, C. tropicalis 1230, C. parapsilosis PA/71 and P92, and C. glabrata BG14, to name a few. Each species and strain may respond to treatment differently.
The symptoms of candida overgrowth can be extensive and even incapacitating, affecting many organs and systems in the body and leading to a vast array of psychiatric and medical conditions, maladies, or syndromes, including but not limited to neurological disorders, mental health disturbances, autoimmunity, inflammation, addiction, gastrointestinal disturbances, cognitive impairment, reproductive, metabolic, hormonal, behavioral, learning or conduct disorders.
Despite the fact that candida exists in epidemic proportions throughout our society globally individuals inflicted typically visit one doctor after another for years before getting a diagnosis. They are often labeled with hypochondria or worse. Even those treating the condition often do not fully comprehend its complexity and depth or possess the extent of knowledge that is needed to help their patients sufficiently.
Most Frequent Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
C. albicans may contain as many as 178 antigens (substances that provoke an immune response) and a multitude of mycotoxins like ammonia, acetaldehyde, ethanol, and carbon dioxide that wreak havoc on our mental and physical health.
Candida likes a moist warm environment and generally inhabits areas like the mouth, throat, genitals, feet, and gastrointestinal tract. However, once it is in the gut, it damages the gut lining (leading to a leaky gut), which allows it and its toxins to infiltrate the bloodstream and travel to other areas of the body.
The symptom that is most often associated with yeast overgrowth is the vaginal yeast infection.
However, many people who have candida do not have vaginal infections. The organ and system that is affected most frequently by candidiasis is the brain and the nervous system, thus why psychological, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms are so abundant.
Other systems that may be acutely impacted include the respiratory, immune, digestive, endocrine, muscular, skeletal, lymphatic, reproductive, cardiovascular, and urinary. All of which may lead to the following types of symptoms:
- gas, bloating and distention
- brain fog
- oral thrush
- chronic fatigue
- generalized anxiety or panic attacks
- sugar and carb cravings
- food sensitivities
- joint pain
- bad breath
- migraines or headaches
- alcohol cravings
- anal itching
- impaired focus and concentration
- attention deficit and/or hyperactivity
- rapid changes in mood
- diarrhea and or constipation
- itchy skin
- fungal infection on fingernails or toes
- persistent sinusitis
- premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- short term memory loss
- nagging cough
- frequent ear infections
- low libido
- muscle weakness
- impaired learning
- hypersensitivity to fragrances and/or other chemicals
- sore throat
- recurring bladder or urinary tract infections
- widespread chronic pain
Candida overgrowth is believed to be a key contributing factor to conditions like vulvodynia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune conditions, leaky gut, severe menopause, hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, PCOS, prostatitis, Tourette’s, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, autism, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, ADHD, Crohn’s chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, alcohol addiction, adrenal fatigue, Addison’s disease, and sympathetic dominance.
Due to candida’s ability to affect such a wide range of organs and systems, it has the potential to be an underlying contributor to just about any symptom or condition you can think of. By no means have I covered it all. Additionally, the symptoms of candida overgrowth and how they manifest can vary from individual to individual and even vacillate from system to system within the same individual during the same day. Severity may range anywhere from mild and annoying to severe and completely debilitating.
Overgrowth may be mild, moderate, or severe. Generally speaking, a more severe level of overgrowth, means more toxins are released, resulting in a greater number of symptoms. But not always, one individual may have a severe set of symptoms with a mild level of overgrowth, while another may not experience that severity until there is a much higher level of overgrowth, so biochemical susceptibility is a factor as well.
If you’re a man reading this page, then you will also want to take a look at the symptoms of candida overgrowth in males page for supplementary data that is unique to men.
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
The two primary causes of candida overgrowth are a diet high in sugar and carbs and the overuse of antibiotics. Sugar and any food that breaks down into sugar in the body is the primary food source for yeast. Consumption of other foods like grains, legumes, and caffeine destroys the gut lining and makes it vulnerable to overgrowth as well. While antibiotics wipe out friendly flora that would help keep yeast in check and create an alkaline-rich environment that encourages them to proliferate.
Other underlying contributors include exposure to pesticides and herbicides, which kill friendly flora, encourage pathogenic microbes, impair immune function, and increase blood glucose levels. Chronic stress or sympathetic dominance, which weakens immunity, increases glucose levels, and destroys healthy gut flora. A gut that is too alkaline, as this is the environment that yeast needs for growth. Heavy metal toxicity degrades the integrity of the gut and impairs immunity. Hormonal imbalances create an environment that encourages yeast overgrowth. Nicotine use strengthens proliferation, morphogenesis, and candida’s ability to adhere, as well as weakening immunity and elevating blood glucose levels, and disrupting neurotransmitters needed for gut function.
Other factors that may contribute to and/or perpetuate candida overgrowth include steroids, NSAIDs, and immune-suppressing drugs, bacterial overgrowth or parasites, a gene mutation that affect collagen production or detoxification, cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, AIDS, Addison’s, surgery, diabetes, leukemia, neutropenia, hypoparathyroidism, intravenous drug use, severe burns, nutritional deficiencies, and prosthetic devices.
The first step for treating candida overgrowth typically involves following a specialized diet. If you need some ideas to get you started on what to eat, you may enjoy this recipes page.
Other strategies involve lifestyle changes, strengthening the immune system and gut, avoidance of antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, probiotic supplementation, and some type of antifungal (be it pharmaceutical or natural).
The goal is to lower the level of overgrowth, which in turn reduces symptoms. A thorough candida cleanse is a powerful way to relieve symptoms and improve your health.
There are many different treatment approaches and products on the market today and this can be very confusing. To make things more difficult, not all practitioners treating this condition have a well-rounded picture of what’s needed for success. It’s important that you have a thorough understanding of the complexities of candida yourself and the most effective way to approach treatment before trying any particular remedy.
By randomly choosing products without understanding the true nature of this beast it can actually hinder your progress in eliminating yeast overgrowth and lead to an increase in symptoms. If you’re looking for a quick read that will cover all the bases for you and get you on the right path from the very start, you may want to take a look at my eBook “Candida Secrets.”
One very popular, but controversial treatment approach is called Threelac. You may want to read my review and experience with this product before trying it yourself.
It’s important to understand that some supplements can be helpful for candida, but others can be harmful and actually cause proliferation Learn the difference between the two to prevent a setback in your recovery.
During any treatment approach, most people experience a temporary worsening of symptoms called die-off. This is a normal part of the healing process, however, it can be overwhelming and steps should be taken to minimize the negative effects.
Do You Have Candida Overgrowth?
There are a variety of tests that practitioners use to diagnose yeast overgrowth, which may include stool tests, blood tests, urine tests, spit tests, etc., but the truth is that none of these tests are very reliable, because candida is notoriously difficult to detect. They may or may not identify candidiasis, A negative test result should not rule out the possibility of infection.
The most reliable and effective way to know if you have a yeast problem is by your past and current symptoms, your case history, and your response to treatment. A written questionnaire that you can find in Dr. Crook’s book called “The Yeast Connection” is the most dependable tool to assist with diagnosis.
On the other hand, an organic acids test from Great Plains Labs is the soundest lab test if you’re wanting something concrete on paper. It’s not 100 percent fail-proof, but it’s much more likely to give you an accurate diagnosis than any other lab test for this purpose.
Candidiasis is a complex and challenging condition. I know this all too well, as I faced this struggle myself for many years. If you need to talk to someone who understands, you may want to consider a phone consultation. I can give you guidance and advice on diet, supplementation, treatment options, lifestyle changes, co-infections, and anything else related to addressing the symptoms of candida overgrowth.