Candida is a fungus that already exists in your body in the form of yeast. It resides in your intestinal tract and can be found on mucous membranes and skin. (Source)
Candida overgrowth is caused by having too much candida in your body. This is what often causes fungal infections in the form of rashes or yeast infections. Everyone has candida. In fact, candida has an important function in the human body. It serves as the clean up crew for waste products produced by other infections and critters in our body. So balance is the key.
If you have too much candida, it can cause a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms based on where the overgrowth occurs.
Many of these symptoms are related to other conditions as well, so you might not even realize it is caused by excess candida in your body.
If you have been experiencing fatigue, frequent infections, or gut issues, you might be dealing with candida overgrowth. Understandably, it can be difficult to diagnose!
What causes candida overgrowth?
It is important that you understand candida (yeast) is already in your body. There is nothing wrong with having it; the problem occurs when it starts to grow excessively and cause side effects.
Candida usually lives in your mouth, mucous membranes and gut, so overgrowth can present itself as “thrush” or oropharyngeal candidiasis, yeast infections, or invasive candidiasis (when Candida species enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body).
The cause of an abundance of candida in your body can come from different sources, but it is more common in people that kill off the good bacteria in their gut. This occurs when you have had one too many rounds of antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. Your gut has good and bad bacteria that provides a peaceful balance, but if you lose too much good bacteria, the bad bacteria takes over and can cause a growth of the candida.
Other things that can lead to candida overgrowth include:
- Eating a large amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol
- Having chronic stress in your life
- Taking certain medications, like oral contraceptives
- Other underlying stealth infections that feed candida
Look Out for These Signs and Symptoms
There is a range of symptoms caused by candida overgrowth. How it presents in your body depends upon where the overgrowth happens, and of course, your unique environment and genetics. Take a look at some of these common signs to begin to determine if candida overgrowth could be the cause of your discomfort.
You Have No Energy
This is probably the first and most common symptom you can experience when you have candida overgrowth. Unfortunately, it is a sign of many other conditions as well, so your doctor might not catch it right away. Notice the severity of your fatigue and rule out other causes to determine if it might be from candida overgrowth.
With this type of chronic fatigue, it doesn’t lessen or go away no matter what you do. You might exercise more or less, try getting better sleep, or do things to keep you alert during the day, but nothing works. This is when you know you have chronic fatigue related to your mental or physical health. When it happens alongside some of these other symptoms, it might be from candida overgrowth.
Your Tummy is Rumbling
Some people experience more problems with their gut and digestive system when they have candida overgrowth. With too much candida in your body, there is a major disruption in the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. This can cause anything from bloating and constipation, to diarrhea and stomach cramps. The candida overgrowth might even be associated with more serious issues that also affect gut, including ulcerative colitis.
Those Infections Keep Coming Back
Since candida is yeast in your body, it makes sense that you might get recurring yeast infections. If you keep getting these infections, it might not just be bad luck, but because you have a lot of candida in your body. Yeast infections are common, with most women having at least one in their lifetime, but getting multiple infections in a short period of time is not common.
In addition to yeast infections (which men can also get), you may also be getting urinary tract infections, oral thrush or even sinus infections on a regular basis.
Recurring Skin or Nail Infections
If you are someone that seems to get Athlete’s foot multiple times a year, or keeps getting other skin and nail infections, there might be more to it. This might actually be from candida overgrowth.
Joint Pain Along with the Fatigue
When you have one or the other, it may not mean anything, but joint pain with moderate or severe fatigue could be from having too much candida in your body. This joint pain can be caused by candida in the bloodstream, creating a condition known as candida arthritis.
Flare-ups of Fibromyalgia or Crohn’s disease
Do you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia? If so, you are more than aware of what a flare-up is. This can actually be related to candida overgrowth. You may notice an increase in your flare-ups, but aren’t quite sure where they are coming from.
Brain fog is one of those symptoms that could be from many different things, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rule out something like candida overgrowth. If you notice problems concentrating or not holding your focus, especially in combination with some of the other symptoms of candida overgrowth, there may be a connection.
Mood Swings or Worsened Anxiety
Lastly, think about whether or not you have unexpected or unexplained mood changes. Our digestive systems are inextricably linked to our neurological health, even if scientists don’t understand all the exact ways yet. Even if it isn’t from candida, it is still a good idea to figure out the source of your anxiety. Play detective and try tracking your moods in a journal to see if you can figure out the cause.
As you can see, candida overgrowth can affect you in many ways. The best thing you can do is start a candida diet—which we will talk about next week—and talk to your healthcare provider to get testing done and put your suspicions to rest.
In the meantime, here is a quick, at home Candida test that you can do yourself
When used in conjunction with the Candida Albicans Self-Screen, the Candida spit test can aid in determining the probability of Candida overgrowth when lab testing is not utilized.
Candida Spit Test
This simple test can easily be performed in the comfort of your own home.
- Fill a clear glass with water and place it by your bed at night. When you wake first thing in the morning, work up a bit of saliva and spit into the glass of water. Do not use throat clearings. It is important that nothing enters your mouth or touches your lips before you do this.Do not drink any water, eat any foods, do not brush your teeth or kiss your partner prior to expressing saliva into the glass.
- Immediately make note of how the saliva looks. Check it again every few minutes and observe any changes that occur within a 15 minute time frame.Healthy saliva will be clear, it will float on top and it will slowly dissolve into the water without any cloudiness and without sinking. There are normally some bubbles or foam present.
Candida saliva will have one or more characteristics that may be a clue for Candida Albican overgrowth:
- Strings traveling down toward the bottom of the glass
- Cloudy saliva that sinks to the bottom of the glass or
- Cloudy specks that are suspended in the water
For deeper testing, I suggest using the GIMap plus Zonulin stool test to uncover deeper root causes to candida overgrowth. If your candida is not resolving, then something larger could be feeding it and it’s worth investigating.
It is recommended that you work with a health practitioner to test for and resolve candida overgrowth if you have persistent symptoms. If you don’t have a practitioner already, please feel welcome to contact me here. Even if I’m not the practitioner for you, I would be happy to point you in the right direction.