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Detox Learning Center

8 Signs You Have a Candida Infection

Candida is a common, naturally occurring species of yeast. It is found within our intestinal tract, mucous membranes, skin, and other organs.

Scientists estimate that there are over 150 different strains of this infection and over 20 different strains that can become problematic to humans. The most common species is Candida albicans. (1)

This infection is usually in small amounts and a harmless part of the gut microbiome and lives without issue on our skin when kept in check. Our bodies are like a diverse ecosystem. When all members of the system are balanced in favor of good bacteria, everything works smoothly.

However, since it is an "opportunistic fungus," if our immune system is weakened, the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in our body can shift. This allows the growth of this fungus to spiral out of control. It can spread through the bloodstream and infect any area of the body, disrupting more body systems as it grows. This leads to a long list of chronic and candida overgrowth symptoms that damage our health, and require targeted support to overcome. (12)

What Are the Symptoms of Candida?

Candida symptoms can vary from person to person. This fungus will travel to and start to multiply in other organ systems. How can you know if you have overgrowth and need treatment? Some common symptoms include the following: (1, 2)

  • Digestive issues
  • Increased allergic reactions
  • Joint pain
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Oral thrush
  • Rashes and other skin reactions
  • Recurrent urinary tract or vaginal infections
  • Strong carbohydrate and sugar cravings

Digestive issues

Where there's inflammation in the gut, growth of candida fungus can easily flourish. As it begins to overgrow, it creates a vicious circle. Low-level inflammation (from damage or toxins in the intestinal tract) promote its ability to colonize. This delays any healing of the gut lining. Then the increased colonization creates more inflammation, causing even more damage as the cycle repeats. 

This fungal infection in the gut can result in bloating, cramping, and alternating constipation and diarrhea. Candida overgrowth is associated with Crohn’s disease, duodenal ulcers, gastric ulcers, and ulcerative colitis. Candida stools can often contain an abundance of mucus. There can sometimes even be white stringy material in the poop. But keep in mind you could still have overgrowth without these specific symptoms. (3)  

digestive issues symptoms candida infection

Increased allergic reactions  

As just mentioned, overgrowth in the intestines can create major digestive issues and inflammation of the gut lining. When this lining gets inflamed, it weakens the cells that form the gut wall. This increased intestinal permeability allows pathogens, toxins, and undigested food particles to pass through and travel to the rest of the body. 

Candida can release over 70 different toxic substances. These substances are also able to breach the gut wall and contribute to systemic inflammation. It can then induce an allergic response. Or more specifically, histamine release from basophil cells. (4)

Basophil cells are a type of white blood cell in our immune system. They are responsible for the inflammation generated during an allergic reaction. So anaphylaxis, asthma attacks, hay fever, and inflammatory skin issues like hives are all part of the basophils release of histamine. Wherever Candida colonizes out of control, it will trigger the basophils to release histamine and create more and more allergic-type reactions. These inflammation problems can start in one area, but spread to the entire body as the it continues to colonize. (4)

Joint pain

If the infection gets into the blood, it can travel to the joints and cause a debilitating form of septic arthritis. Without proper treatment, this painful infection can cause serious damage to the infected joints and result in a tremendous amount of suffering. (5)

joint pain candida symptom

Nutrient deficiencies

Candida overgrowth is associated with nutrient deficiencies, such as essential fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin B6. A lack of these crucial components to health can cause brain fog or fatigue, further weaken the immune system, and lower our mood. Deficiencies in these micronutrients may also lead to muscle pain and weakness. (6)

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is when Candida overgrowth occurs in the mouth. Infection in this area can start in the mouth, but travel down the throat and esophagus. (2)

It can also appear as white patches on the tongue, but also the inside of the cheeks and roof of the mouth. The sides of the mouth can become dry and cracked. Oral thrush can even cause a loss of taste, and pain when swallowing. Denture wear, drugs, dysfunctional salivary glands, and a weakened immune system are all factors in contributing to oral thrush. (7, 8

Oral thrush can be quite common in babies, but can also occur in the elderly. Babies with oral thrush can develop a yeast infection in the diaper area, appearing as painful red diaper rashes that are difficult to heal. Unfortunately, the warm, moist environment of a diaper is the ideal place for a yeast diaper rash infection to occur. Providing support to babies and the elderly can lessen their chances of getting oral thrush.

Rashes and other skin reactions

Candida lives naturally on the skin without a problem, most of the time. But if the equilibrium of bacteria on the skin gets altered, a skin infection can form.

These particular skin infections can appear anywhere but typically emerges in the warm folds of the body where there is friction. The armpits, corner of the mouth, finger or toenail edges, groin, and under the breasts are most common. A red, burning rash with intense itchiness will develop. It could also lead to blisters, hives, and pustules. (9)

This infection can form in the deep layers of skin on the face as well. Persistent, cystic like acne can occur. It is usually most evident on the chin, close to the mouth, and along the hairline. But candida doesn’t like to stay put. Acne from the infection can spread to the chest, back, and even the thighs. (9)

Just as candida can trigger acne, it can also lead to eczema and psoriasis. In fact, the risk of yeast infection on the skin increases with people suffering from psoriasis.(9) 

This fungal infection can also occur on the scalp, causing a type of hair loss called scarring alopecia. Athlete's foot is another common form of infection on the skin. (10)

Skin reactions candida yeast symptom

Recurrent urinary tract or vaginal infections

Two other favorite places for candida to colonize is the urinary tract and the vagina. Both of these types of infections are fairly common among women and can often be painful, frustrating, and difficult to treat. Yeast infections are the second most common vaginal infection, bacterial infection being the first. Men can also get yeast infections on their genitals, but this is much less common. These infections can lead to painful intercourse. (11)

Urinary tract infections are a little less common than vaginal yeast infections. In this case, you may feel the urge to urinate frequently, but it’s very painful when you do so. Their urine can be cloudy with a stronger smell than usual.

Strong carbohydrate and sugar cravings

We have much more to learn about the human microbiome. What we do know, however, is that the gut microbes can influence the cravings and choices of their host — you. 

Candida love sugar. It is their preferred fuel source. People with this overgrowth often have extreme cravings for simple carbohydrates and sugar. As the fungus continues to colonize, the need for more and more sugar will increase.  (12)

What Are the Main Causes of Candida?

Candida is an invasive and opportunistic pathogen. As you can see, no one body system is exempt from the overgrowth and its effects. What causes this yeast to colonize out of control? After all, it is a normal part of our microbiome. What are the conditions that allow it to spread and infect the whole body?

A number of areas can contribute to this imbalance in your body. These are the key factors:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth control pills
  • Chlorine and fluoride
  • Corticosteroids
  • High mercury levels
  • High sugar diet
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Stress

Alcohol consumption

Although this infection favors sugar as the easiest fuel source, this yeast can also use ethanol. Plus, if your alcoholic drink of choice contains sugar, this is like dumping gasoline on a fire.

One of the metabolites this yeast produces, especially if alcohol acts as its fuel source, is acetaldehyde. High levels of acetaldehyde is considered dangerous. (13

Alcohol consumption can affect candida overgrowth

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are designed to kill all bacteria and organisms in the microbiome. This includes the good, protective ones that would prevent overgrowth. Our natural defense system is killed off. When we take a course of antibiotics, we leave ourselves wide open for negative pathogens to make themselves at home in our bodies.

Along with this, antibiotic overuse can also lead to strains of pathogens becoming immune to antibiotics. This worsens the situation as your good bacteria are killed, but some of the negative mutated ones survive.

Antibiotics are often prescribed for issues where the drug will not actually have any effect. The cycle of periodically killing off our good bacteria can make the infection stronger and able to resist treatment. (14)

Birth control pills

Many women use prescription contraceptives nowadays. These artificial estrogens upset the normal biological levels of female hormones. Candida appears to flourish in high-estrogen environments, as there is a strong correlation between birth control yeast and the fungus. (15

Chlorine and fluoride

Chlorine and fluoride have been added to municipal water systems for many decades to kill pathogens and keep our drinking water clean and safe. These chemicals do indeed help to kill pathogens, including candida.

However, much like antibiotics, fluoride and chlorine kill indiscriminately. Research has found this fungus to be the most fluoride-resistant type of pathogen. If chlorine and fluoride have started to wipe out our own good bacteria, but the infection isn’t as affected, once again we have left this yeast a great environment to multiply. (16)

Water chlorine fluoride

Corticosteroid use

Corticosteroids are used to suppress the immune system in hopes to lower inflammation. They can be prescribed for allergies, arthritis, asthma, or skin issues like dermatitis. Often they are used for autoimmune diseases where a person's immune system attacks itself.

Similar to antibiotics, suppressing our natural defenses gives Candida a perfect environment to take over. Long-term use of these drugs can also lead to other health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis, and stunted growth. (17)

High levels of mercury in the body

Candida has the ability to live and even flourish in environments that contain heavy metals like mercury. Mercury may be a naturally occurring element in our environment, but that doesn’t mean it's harmless to the human body. It can contribute to anxiety, cognitive problems, and depression besides helping the yeast.

Unfortunately, there are many environmental sources of mercury exposure. We can ingest mercury from contaminated water or from fish that lived in contaminated water. We can breathe it in from air pollution. Amalgam dental filling, for instance, are also source of mercury. (18

High sugar diet

The modern diet we now consume is much higher in sugar than that of our ancestors. This unnatural sugar consumption can lead to many chronic illnesses and diseases, such as liver problems, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Hidden sugar in our pre-packaged convenience foods lowers our defenses while being the perfect food source for fungal infections. The yeast even has sugar sensors in their DNA, triggering it to grow and morph into a stronger organism. (19)

High sugar diets feeds yeast growth

Proton pump inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors are commonly prescribed for acid reflux, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. They change the pH in the stomach by suppressing stomach acid. This may relieve acid reflux symptoms but can leave a person susceptible to yeast overgrowth, especially in the esophagus.

This class of drug also affect the intestines, potentially leading to an unbalanced microbiome. This again can give yeast the upper hand to colonize with less restriction. (2021)  

Stress

High levels of stress can change the way we metabolize sugar and also contribute to sugar craving. We get less sleep when we are stressed, so we reach for sugary foods to give us a burst of energy to get us through the day. We think we are feeding ourselves, but we are really feeding the yeast infection.

Long-term stress also weakens the immune system, lowering our defenses to fight pathogens. Looking for ways to lower stress, like through meditation and other lifestyle changes, can help lower overgrowth risk. 

The Benefits of Early Detection

Candida overgrowth can have devastating consequences on your health if not properly dealt with. If you have some yeast infection signs, seek help from healthcare professionals with experience treating this infection.

Getting a grip on this type of infection early on will help prevent other organ systems from being overtaken as well. Your health and energy levels will improve as you restore the delicate balance of microbes in your body.