Candidiasis, also called thrush or moniliasis, is a yeast infection. Candida albicans is an organism that normally makes a quiet home for itself on your skin and doesn't bother anyone. We all carry this organism on our skin, in our mouth, in our gastrointestinal tract (gut), and, in the case of women, in the vagina.
Occasionally the yeast multiplies uncontrollably, causing pain and inflammation. Candidiasis may affect the skin. This includes the external surface skin and the skin of the vagina, the penis, and the mouth. Candidiasis may also infect the blood stream or internal organs such as the liver or spleen. By far the most common problems are skin, mouth and vaginal infections. It also is a common cause of diaper rash. These can be bothersome infections, but are not life threatening.
Candidiasis can kill if it reaches the bloodstream or vital organs such as the heart, but this is rare even in people with damaged immune systems and is almost unheard of in healthy people. Nevertheless, candidiasis is a constant nuisance, and sometimes a serious threat to people with AIDS and some cancer patients who lack the immune resources to fight it.
Causes of Candidiasis
You don't catch candidiasis. The yeast is already there.A number of factors can increase the chance of the yeast growing out of control. The leading cause is overuse of antibiotics. Yeast must compete for the right to live on us with various other organisms, many of them bacteria. These bacteria, which live on the skin and in the intestine and vagina, among other places, are harmless but good at fighting off yeast. When we take antibiotics to deal with less friendly bacteria, we kill off these harmless ones as well. Yeast, which is unaffected by antibiotics, moves into the vacated spots once occupied by bacteria, and starts to grow and multiply.
Steroids and some cancer medications weaken the immune system and can allow yeast to flourish. Candida albicans infections of the mouth (known as oral thrush) most often develop in people with diseases such as cancer and AIDS. They can also develop in people with diabetes or in people who have long-term irritation resulting from dentures. Taking birth control pills increases your chances of getting vaginal candidiasis. Hot weather and tight clothing are also risk factors, as they create the ideal environment for candida.
Warning signs of Candida overgrowth
Arguably, the most debilitating and persistent symptom of Candida overgrowth is fatigue, which is typically enduring and challenging to treat. It is difficult to perform even basic tasks that require physical exertion, such as walking long distances or engaging in social activities.
Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder
Candida overgrowth can lead to various symptoms manifesting in the body, including personality and mood. When dealing with the latter, individuals may experience increased fragility and anxiety, along with irritability.
Recurring Urinary Tract Infections
Candida is a common culprit behind urinary tract infections especially when persistent infections occur over several months. Women may also face infections affecting the vagina, which can be caused by Candida itself or through sexual transmission.
Oral Thrush Symptoms
Oral thrush presents as a white coating on the tongue. This condition is a type of yeast infection that is closely linked to Candida. Early treatment is crucial, as oral thrush can quickly spread to other areas of the body if left unaddressed.
Chronic Joint Pain
Candida infection could enter the bloodstream, allowing it access to the body’s tissues and joints. The immune system, if functioning correctly, regulates bacterial levels, preventing candida from spreading to other parts of the body. If the candida manages to spread, the hips and knees are the most likely areas to be affected. Common symptoms of such an infection include stiffness, pain, and reduced mobility.
Frequent Stomach Aches
Candida overgrowth predominantly impacts the stomach, making it the area most susceptible to symptoms. An excessive amount of candida can lead to various issues in the stomach and intestines, such as discomfort, gas, and other warning signs. Additionally, weakened intestinal walls may result in indigestion, while constipation is another possible outcome..
Signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut is a condition in which the intestinal walls become significantly weaker due to an overgrowth of bacteria. Candida overgrowth can lead to a weak and permeable intestinal lining. Consequently, the immune system reacts aggressively, treating them as an attack on the body. This response can result in specific food allergies and sensitivities.
Persistent Fungal Infections
When the body’s natural defenses are compromised, an increase in rashes and other skin-related issues can occur. Infections of this nature are particularly prevalent in warm and moist environments.
Weak Immune System Function
If left untreated, Candida can severely weaken the immune system, making infections more prevalent and increasingly difficult to defend against.
How do you get candida overgrowth?
The healthy bacteria in your gut typically keep your candida levels in check. However, several factors can cause the candida population to get out of hand:
- Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar (which feed the yeast)
- Consuming a lot of alcohol
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Eating a diet high in fermented foods like Kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles
- Living a high-stress lifestyle
- Taking a round of antibiotics that killed too many of those friendly bacteria
The Candida-Hormone Connection
Approximately 75 percent of women suffer from at least one yeast infection during their lives. Candida produces 79 different toxins known to wreak havoc with the immune system. However, it is rarely understood that candida also contributes to hormonal problems. A candida waste product produces a false estrogen, which tricks the body into thinking it has produced adequate levels, signaling a reduction of its own estrogen. Similar messages can also be sent to the thyroid, reducing thyroxin production and initiating or worsening a hypothyroid problem. Elevated estrogen levels also increase the incidence of vaginal candidiasis.
Adrenal Fatigue and Candida
Those who are suffering from chronic yeast infections, Candida, are already under an immense amount of physical pressure. Their immune systems are severely compromised, which leads to physical stress on the body. Eventually, the adrenal glands stop producing cortisol, which in turn causes more damage to the immune system. Many are misdiagnosed at first, so they’re taking antibiotics, medications, and stimulants to fight what they think is chronic fatigue, IBS, or something else. They’re pressuring the adrenal glands without even knowing it.
On the other hand, some patients do develop adrenal fatigue before they develop Candida. Adrenal fatigue, in its own right, depresses the immune system because of the lack of cortisol. The weaker your immune system, the easier it is for Candida to grow and thrive within the body.