“7 signs I have a candida infection? What the heck is that?!” At least a few of you out there just uttered a similar phrase…
Well, let’s define it.
Candida (fungus): Candida is a genus of yeasts and is the most common cause of fungal infection worldwide. Many species are harmless commensals or endosymbionts of hosts including humans; however, when mucosal barriers are disrupted or the immune system is compromised they can invade and cause disease. (Wikipedia, 2015)
Anytime we hear “fungus” we start to gag just a bit, but candida actually serves as an important human ally. Candida aids digestions and assists with nutrient absorption – two very important functions. The problem starts when the fungi overproduce, causing breakdown of the intestines and entering the bloodstream; releasing toxic byproducts and causing “leaky gut”.
Candida infection is strangely unique in the sense that it can cause a variety of health issues, including:
– Bad breath
– Brain fog
– Craving sugar
– Hormonal imbalance
– Fatigue and exhaustion
– Loss of sex drive
– Weak immune system
– Urinary Tract Infection
For something that doesn’t generate much press, candida can really cause some problems! So, how do these problems start?
Typically, there are enough healthy bacteria in our gut to regulate candida levels; however, some actions can cause irregular candida presence, including:
– Heavy consumption of alcohol
– Eating a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar
– Eating a diet high in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickles
– Taking antibiotics that effectively kill off the healthy bacteria
– Having a high-stress lifestyle
– Taking oral contraceptives
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and many individuals that do these things never end up with candida problems. However, these are known instigators of candida infections and overgrowth.
While typically a difficult condition to diagnose, there are a few symptoms that could mean a candida infection.
Here are seven signs you have a candida infection:
1. Intestinal discomfort
As the primary habitat of candida, the gut is where the discomfort often originates. Consistent burping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and flatulence are all symptoms of a candida infection. This happens because the yeast overtakes the healthy bacteria in the gut, resulting in infection. When the candida infection is treated, people often experience dramatic relief from these symptoms.
2. Brain fog
A somewhat ambiguous term, brain fog is a blanket term meaning constant feelings of fatigue, distraction and moodiness. Our commercialized and busy world has made brain fog quite common. There are also dietary reasons for the disorder, such as processed foods and factory-farmed meats. Candida overgrowth and infection can also cause mental symptoms, such as: lack of focus, poor coordination, difficulty concentrating and poor memory.
3. Sinus infections
Similar to many other candida symptoms, sinus infections are common, making it difficult to discover the source of the problem. Candida generally causes consistent sinus problems such as runny nose, persistent cough, post-nasal drip and increasing congestion. It is the consistency of sinus infections – especially for people with no known allergies – that can pinpoint candida as the culprit.
4. Chronic fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an abnormality characterized by constant feelings of fatigue or exhaustion that lasts over a period of six months. The disorder is known to produce other symptoms as well, including: difficulty concentrating, headaches, joint pain, memory problems and sore throat. Candida infections increase the likelihood of someone developing CFS.
5. Hormonal imbalance
Candida infection can cause early menopause, low sex drive, migraines, water retention, mood swings, weight gain and endometriosis. Inflammation is also a very common symptom; this causes the yeast to become larger and expand outside of the digestive tract. Candida overgrowth also produces a byproduct that resembles estrogen, which can lead to a more severe imbalance of hormones.
6. Repeated vaginal and urinary tract infections
Candida may be the root cause in cyclical infections of the vagina or urinary tract. The fungi can be transmitted sexually and passed between partners. Women can decrease the odds on contracting candida by taking certain actions, such as not wearing tightly-fitting underwear/pantyhose and avoiding hot baths during a yeast infection.
7. Skin and/or nail infections
Toenail fungus and athlete’s foot are two common types of yeast infection, which can originate from a strain of candida. Continuous infections may be a sign of a candida infection, especially if coupled with any other symptom of candida infection.
Something frustrating about the symptoms on this list is that all of them can be caused by something other than a candida infection. That said, there are ways to check for a candida infection as well as homemade cures (Google: “The Candida Cleanse”, “The Candida Diet” and “Candida Supplements” for some great ideas).
If you want your doctor to check for a candida infection, there are three options: a blood test, stool test, or a urine organix dysbiosis test. Dr. Amy Myers, a world-renowned functional medicine physician, gives some specific advice on each one.
– For the blood test, you want to check for IgG, IgA, and IgM candida anti-bodies. Elevated levels of any one of these can mean a candida overgrowth. The drawback is that this test can often be negative, while the stool or urine test is positive.
– Stool testing is the most accurate, checking for candida in both the colon and lower intestines. In addition, the lab can usually identify the species of yeast. The most effective treatment can also be ascertained from this test.
– The Urine Organix Dysbiosis test checks for a waste product of candida called D-Arabinitol. Elevated levels often mean candida overgrowth.