You may have heard people say, “Oh everybody has Candida! It’s no big deal.”
Welcome to the world of common misconceptions regarding Candida. I would like to offer some real-world information based on my 27 years’ experience as a naturopathic physician to help you understand what Candida is and why it should not be taken lightly if it goes rogue.
It’s true that everybody has Candida, a naturally-occurring yeast that lives in your body alongside other organisms, including beneficial bacteria. When your body and immune system are healthy with a harmonious balance of these organisms, Candida isn’t a problem. The “good bacteria” feed on Candida and are able to keep it in check.
However, if your general health or immunity are compromised and this natural balance is disrupted, Candida can grow out of control and cause a variety of yeast and fungal infections, eventually leaving you feeling so ill that you can barely function. That is when is can become a “big deal” with potentially serious and costly consequences.
Over the years, I’ve consulted with thousands of people who felt their lives were being ruined by a variety of disorders that turned out to be from Candida overgrowth (candidiasis), commonly known as yeast infection. Because symptoms of candidiasis can mimic those of unrelated disorders, misdiagnosis is often a problem.
Despite the growing body of information available today, too many people remain unaware of the potentially debilitating health issues that can arise from untreated candidiasis and choose to either ignore it or opt for a “quick-fix solution” that promises to “easily” eradicate the problem. The truth is that successfully treating candidiasis is not that easy, especially once it advances to a chronic level. Early diagnosis and a well-rounded course of treatment are your best bet for regaining good health more quickly and staying there.
Of the 150-plus species of Candida, six are frequently associated with human infections:
1. Candida Albicans
This is the most common species to cause yeast infections, responsible for about 50% of all candidiasis occurrences. Candida albicans is opportunistic in nature, so if your immune system is compromised, or your “good bacteria” population is reduced by antibiotics, high stress levels, excessive “bad” carbohydrate intake or hormonal imbalance, Candida albicans will seize the opportunity to overgrow, wreaking havoc in various parts of your body.
Common symptoms include fatigue, bloating, flatulence, anxiety, depression, vaginitis, itchy skin, impaired memory, poor concentration, and a “foggy” brain. Left untreated, Candida albicans overgrowth can lead to systemic infection via the bloodstream, allowing numerous disease processes to occur.
There are various treatments to reduce Candida albicans overgrowth, including prescription and over-the-counter antifungal medications, herbal supplements, natural remedies, healthy dietary and lifestyle changes.
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2. Candida Tropicalis
The second most common species, Candidat tropicalis is believed to be responsible for up to 30% of Candida bloodstream infections (candidaemia). Overgrowth usually occurs in the gastrointestinal tract and on the skin of people with diabetes mellitus, leukemias and lymphomas, causing an array of issues including diarrhea, excessive gas, stomach cramps, and skin irritations including relentless itching, eczematous rashes and hives. Candida tropicalis can also cause vaginal candidiasis, symptomized by intense vaginal itching, abnormal thin watery discharge, pain when urinating, redness and swelling of the outer genitals. Overgrowth can also cause nervous system disorders resulting in depression, anxiety, headaches and memory loss.
While Candida tropicalis is not as aggressive as Candida albicans, it’s becoming more resistant to antifungal drugs such as Flucytosine, making it more difficult to treat. Fortunately there are several new generation antifungals that have been found effective when combined with a balanced treatment regimen including supplements and dietary/lifestyle modifications.
3. Candida Glabrata
With the increased use of immunosuppressive agents, mucosal and systemic infections caused by Candida glabrata have increased significantly in recent years, according to NIH.* Estimated to be involved in 10-30 percent of yeast infections, Candida glabrata can cause oral thrush, which presents as creamy white, slightly raised lesions in the mouth. This can result in painful or difficult swallowing, or fever if the infection spreads beyond the esophagus. Thrush can affect anyone, though it occurs most often in babies, toddlers, older adults, and people with immune deficiencies. Left untreated, thrush can spread to other parts of the body including the lungs and liver of immunocompromised people.
Treatment modalities include various antifungal agents combined with supplements, nutritional and lifestyle modifications.
4. Candida Parapsilosis
Candida parapsilosis is believed to be involved in up to 30 percent of Candida infections, notably nail and tissue infections, and fungemia (fungal blood infection). Candida parapsilosis can cause severe flu-like symptoms, chronic fatigue and systemic infections, most often in immune-impaired people. Its high resistance to antimicrobial drugs is causing concern in hospitals, primarily in Europe. As with the aforementioned species of Candida, a comprehensive treatment approach is necessary to regain good health.
5. Candida Krusei
A rare species, Candida krusei accounts for approximately 1% of candidiasis, and is usually associated with infant diarrhea and sometimes systemic candidiasis. Although it’s resistant to Fluconazole, Candida krusei can be successfully treated with antifungal medications including Amphotericin B. in addition to a holistic regimen.
6. Candida Lusitaniae
Another rare species responsible for about 1% of Candida infections, Candida lusitaniae has been linked to several cases of candidemia blood infections, as well as systemic candidiasis, including sepsis and pyelonephritis, a potentially serious kidney infection. Fluconazole is an appropriate choice as first-line therapy for Candida lusitaniae, combined with dietary and lifestyle modifications.
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There’s no “magic pill” or instant solution for beating candidiasis, despite such commonly advertised claims targeting today’s instant-results mentality. The only way to win the battle is with a diligent multifaceted approach that addresses the root problems and corrects them over time. Candidiasis can be beaten if you’re persistent with your treatment and make the lifestyle changes necessary to accelerate your recovery. It’s up to you.
You can read more about candida eradication protocol here.