Symptoms of Candida and Fungal Infections

Candida overgrowth is one of the most common infections in the United States, affecting an estimated 9 out of every 100,000 people. Most people who suffer from a Candida infection have no clue that they have an infection. In this article, we will explore some of the most common symptoms of a Candida infection so that you can get a better understanding of this common health condition and how it affects the body.

 

What is Candida?

 

Candida is a type of yeast or fungus that lives on and inside the human body. There are many different species of Candida, and some are more likely to affect our health than others. Small amounts of the Candida fungus typically exist on the skin, and inside the mouth, vagina, and gut. In small amounts, Candida are harmless and cause no symptoms. In fact, they may even play a necessary role in our body’s microbiome (the community of trillions of microorganisms that live on and inside the body, and that help to regulate our health and immunity).

 

Typically, the bacteria living on and in the body, combined with the efforts of the immune system, help to keep Candida populations under control. However, certain factors can cause this fungus to multiply out of control, resulting in a Candida infection, which is called “candidiasis.” If you would like to learn more about this fungal infection, read our blog "What is Candida?"

 

What is Candidiasis?

 

Candidiasis is the medical term for a fungal infection caused by Candida. Not all species of Candida cause infection, but many of them can, and typically, Candida albicans is the species that is most likely to cause a Candida overgrowth.

 

Our body’s immune system, as well as the community of bacteria in the body, typically keep Candida populations under control. However, certain dietary and lifestyle factors may inhibit these natural defenses and may feed the Candida yeast, causing it to grow uncontrollably.

 

When Candida has grown out of control, it is known as candidiasis, or a Candida infection. Usually a Candida infection affects the mouth, throat, vagina, and gut, but if not treated, or if the population grows significantly out of control, it can lead to a more serious health condition called Invasive candidiasis.

 

Invasive candidiasis is a serious infection that can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones, and other parts of the body. Candidemia, a bloodstream infection with Candida, is a common infection in hospitalized patients.

 

What Causes a Candida Overgrowth?

 

Candidiasis typically develops when the bacteria that keep Candida under control are suppressed, or when the body’s immune system is weakened. Some common causes of Candida overgrowth include:

  • Diets high in processed foods, sugars and refined carbs
  • Obesity
  • High stress levels
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Pregnancy
  • Steroids
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Dentures
  • Dry mouth
  • Chemotherapy
  • HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Warm, humid weather
  • A weakened immune system
  • Auto-immune diseases

 

Symptoms of Candida

 

Knowing that you have a Candida infection is not always something that is easy to figure out. Some of the signs and symptoms of Candida are minor, and may not cause enough alarm to seek out further testing from a medical professional. The most common symptoms associated with a Candida infection are:

 

  • Oral thrush
  • Digestive issues
  • Leaky gut
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Yeast infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Sugar cravings
  • Sinus infections
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin and nail fungal infections
  • Acne

 

Below we will discuss each of these common symptoms of candidiasis in more detail and how each of these symptoms affects the body.

 

Oral Thrush

 

A Candida infection that develops in the mouth or throat is called “Oral thrush.” It is most common in newborns, the elderly, and in those with weakened immune systems. People with poor hygiene or removable dentures are also at a higher risk.

Oral thrush is typically characterized by white, bumpy patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils or throat. It is also associated with redness or soreness of the mouth and tongue. The lesions can often be painful and may also bleed when scraped. In advanced case, an oral Candida infection can spread to the esophagus and can cause pain or difficulty swallowing.

 

Digestive Issues

Digestive health is significantly dependent upon the right balance of gut bacteria. Within our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), we have trillions of microorganisms that make up what is called our “gut microbiome.” This microbiome, or community of microorganisms, helps the digestive process, supports immune function, and regulates our health in many different ways.

To have a healthy digestive system, one must have a healthy population of gut bacteria. A healthy microbiome contains a delicate balance of 80-90% “good” bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium longum, and 10-20% “bad” bacteria. Research shows that this ratio is ideal for maintaining gut health.

 

The abundance of “good” bacteria help with digestion and help us process starches, fibers, and sugars. They also help to keep the population of Candida fungus under control. When the gut microbiome is thrown out of balance due to poor dietary and lifestyle factors, it can allow the Candida fungus to grow out of control, leading to various digestive issues including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, stomach pain and bloating.

 

New research shows that an overgrowth of Candida may also be associated with several diseases of the GI tract, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.

 

Leaky Gut

 

Digestive issues are a common complaint of those suffering from a Candida infection, and in some cases, leaky gut may also be caused by this fungal overgrowth. Inside the gut there is an extensive intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, this lining forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. An unhealthy or damaged gut lining may have large cracks or holes that allow partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation cause changes in the gut microbiome that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond.

 

While leaky gut may be caused by a Candida infection, and is therefore considered a symptom of candidiasis, it comes with its own range of symptoms including chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, headaches, confusion/brain fog, difficulty concentrating, skin problems—such as acne, rashes, or eczema, and joint pain. If you have any, or multiple, of these symptoms, it is possible that leaky gut could be the underlying issue.

 

Tiredness & Fatigue

 

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms associated with a Candida infection. Research is still needed to determine whether Candida itself directly causes fatigue, but it is clear that a Candida infection can contribute to fatigue in various ways.

 

One of the major ways that candidiasis can lead to fatigue is that this type of infection is often accompanied by nutritional deficiencies, such as a deficiency in vitamin B6, essential fatty acids and magnesium. Magnesium deficiency, in particular, has been known to cause fatigue.

 

Another way that candidiasis contributes to fatigue is due to the fact that it typically occurs when the immune system is weakened. A weakened immune system in itself may lead to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, and with the body’s immune system fighting a fungal infection, it may increase these feelings.

 

Yeast Infection

 

Candida, in small amounts, is completely natural to have on or in the body, and one of the places it is most commonly found is in the vaginal tracts of women. When there is a Candida overgrowth, however, it can lead to candidiasis of the vagina, also known as a yeast infection.

 

Men can also get genital yeast infections, but it is far less common. For women, a vaginal yeast infection is much more likely, with an estimated 75% of all women getting at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime.

 

Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse and a thick, white discharge from the vagina.

 

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

 

Though it is much less common, Candida can also cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). Urinary tract infections are more likely to be caused by certain bacteria like E. coli, but Candida may also be the cause, especially if the UTI is recurring. If you have a UTI, or recurring UTI’s, getting your urine tested is the best way to determine the cause and to know how to treat it.

 

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include a burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent urge to urinate, cloudy, dark or strange-smelling urine and pain or pressure in your lower abdomen.

 

Candida-related urinary tract infections are most common in the elderly, hospitalized or immune-compromised individuals.

 

Sugar Cravings

 

Sugar cravings are a very common symptom of a Candida infection. All fungus feed on simple sugars as their primary fuel source, and Candida is no different. Candida loves to feed on simple sugars, and when these are consumed in excess it causes microbial populations to become imbalanced, which is known as a state of dysbiosis.

 

When one is in a state of dysbiosis and the Candida yeast have overpopulated, they will cause intense sugar cravings as they require the sugar to keep their populations high. This is why most Candida diets require one to significantly limit, or in some cases completely eliminate, sugar consumption.

 

Sinus Infections

 

Chronic sinus infections are a common health condition that many people suffer from. In fact, it is estimated that one in eight adults in the United States suffer from chronic sinus infections. Common symptoms of sinus infection include a runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of smell and headaches.

Typically, sinus infections are caused by bacteria, especially when they are short term infections. However, many longer-term chronic sinus infections are believed to be fungal. One study observed a group of 210 individuals with chronic sinus infections and found that 96% of them had fungi in their mucus.

It is important to know what kind of sinus infection you have, as the way to treat that infection will vary dramatically depending on the cause. For bacterial sinus infections, antibiotics are often prescribed. While these are often effective for bacterial sinus infections, they may actually aggravate fungal infections and make them worse. If you suffer from sinus infections that last longer than a month, a Candida infection could be the cause.

 

Joint Pain

 

In some cases of candidiasis, the Candida yeast may enter the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, infecting the joints and causing arthritis. This is not very common, and typically only happens after surgery or when an overgrowth of Candida is left untreated for an extended period of time.

Candida arthritis is associated with pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints, with the kips and knees tending to be the most commonly infected.

 

Muscle Pain

 

When the Candida fungus is left untreated for an extended period of time, it may enter the bloodstream and effect other parts of the body. As a result, the muscles may be affected, and one may experience muscle aches and stiffness. If you experience regular muscle pain and muscle stiffness it is possible that Candida could be the cause.

 

Skin & Nail Fungal Infections

 

The gut microbiome is the community of organisms that live inside of our intestinal tract. Similar to our gut microbiome, there is a community of organisms on our skin that make up our skin microbiome, or skin microbiota. Just like the bacteria in our gut, the bacteria on our skin help prevent Candida from growing uncontrollably.

All bacteria thrive in different conditions, including varying levels of temperature, moisture or acidity. Because of this, a change in environment on your skin can allow Candida to overproduce. Soaps, cosmetics, and moisturizers, especially the antibacterial varieties, can alter skin conditions. Skin candidiasis can affect any part of the body, but the areas that are warm and moist, such as the groin and armpits, are the most prone to infection. Itching and a visible rash are the two most common symptoms of skin fungal infections.

An overgrowth of Candida can cause conditions like athlete’s foot, candida hives, ringworm and toenail fungus. While not life threatening, skin fungal infections can be very uncomfortable and can significantly decrease one’s quality of life.

 

Acne

 

Fungal acne is a type of infection in your skin’s hair follicles. It most commonly appears as small pimples that don’t differ much in shape or size, and often come along with an itching sensation. Fungal acne can cause whiteheads and skin irritation. It is not always caused by a Candida yeast, but Candida may be the cause.

 

Fungal acne and acne vulgaris (the common type of acne associated with blackheads and white heads) are two different conditions caused by two different things. They won’t respond to the same treatment, and in some cases, using anti-acne treatments can make fungal acne worse.

To tell the difference between fungal acne and bacterial acne:

  • Check the size. Pus-filled bumps caused by fungal acne tend to be nearly all the same size. Bacterial acne can cause pimples and whiteheads of varying sizes.
  • Notice the location. Fungal acne often shows up on the arms, chest, and back, but it can also be on the face, where bacterial acne is most common.
  • Notice if it itches. Fungal acne often causes itchiness, whereas bacterial acne rarely does.
  • Check for Clusters. Fungal acne often appears in clusters of small whiteheads. Bacterial acne is less clustered and more sparse.

The yeast responsible for fungal acne is always present on your skin. Typically, this yeast is kept under control by the bacteria that are also a part of your skin. However, if this natural balance is upset, an overgrowth can occur. Since fungal acne is the result of a yeast overgrowth, noticing if you have other yeast-related conditions like psoriasis, dandruff, or some of the other symptoms mentioned in this article, may help you determine whether your breakouts are from yeast or another cause.

 

How to Get Rid of a Candida Infection

 

The best way to treat candidiasis and prevent recurring infections is to address the underlying cause. Candidiasis is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, so, to reduce the population of Candida, you need to stop eating the foods that support them, consume herbs and foods that target the Candida fungus, and eat foods that contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy immune system so that the body can restore balance. If you would like to learn more about what foods to eat to cleanse candida, read our blog "Candida Detox Diet".

 

The food you eat plays an essential role in maintaining the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut. Refined sugars, carbs, and dairy products can encourage Candida and other “bad” microorganisms to grow. On the other hand, certain foods have specifically been shown to encourage “good” bacteria to grow and inhibit the growth of Candida. Check out our blog “Candida Detox Diet: Anti Candida Foods” for more information on what to eat and what not to eat to fight candidiasis.

 

Candida Cleanse Tonic

 

In order to support the elimination of Candida and to help restore healthy levels of the Candida fungus in the body, we have created our Candida Cleanse Tonic that contains carefully selected herbs with specific compounds that support the cleansing of candida fungus and other fungal organisms.

 

 

The herbs in this tonic have strong anti-fungal properties, as well as properties that aid in the health of the liver, digestive system, and immune system, all of which are important for restoring balance in the body and treating fungal infections like Candida overgrowth. The herbs in this formula are either wildcrafted or organically and biodynamically grown, and work together synergistically to provide a truly supportive formula for assisting with candida overgrowth.

 

Summary

 

Candida is a type of yeast or fungus that lives on and inside the human body. In small amounts, Candida are harmless and cause no symptoms. . However, certain factors can cause this fungus to multiply out of control, resulting in a Candida infection, which is called “candidiasis.” Candidiasis is one of the most common infections in the United States, and most people who suffer from a Candida infection are completely unaware of it.

 

Our body’s immune system, as well as the community of bacteria in the body, typically keep Candida populations under control. However, certain dietary and lifestyle factors may inhibit these natural defenses and may feed the Candida yeast, causing it to grow uncontrollably.

 

A Candida infection can cause many diverse symptoms such as oral thrush, digestive issues, leaky gut, tiredness and fatigue, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, sugar cravings, sinus infections, joint pain, muscle pain, skin and nail fungal infections, acne, and more.

 

To treat a Candida infection, one needs to address the problem at the root. The Candida population must be reduced through specific foods and herbs that kill the fungus and promote a healthy gut microbiome and immune system, while simultaneously reducing the foods that feed candida such as refined carbs, sugars and dairy.

 

 

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753159/

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/invasive/statistics.html

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/invasive/index.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23705242/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4455825/

http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1985/pdf/1985-v14n01-p050.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863365/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163673/

 

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