Candida is a yeast (fungus) leading to fungal infection candidiasis, also known as moniliasis, oidiomycosis. There are around 20 species of candida out of which Candida albicans infection is the most common. Candida symptoms and sign of this disease vary according to the part of the affected body. The infection is mostly found in mouth, intestine and on the skin.
Oral thrush or candidiasis of mouth is the most common candida infection seen. This yeast thrives in moist and warm areas of the body. It affects genitalia, nailbeds and sometimes even the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and respiratory tract.
Candida stays on the surface of the skin, and our skin blocks the entry of candida. Any form of break or cut or irritation of the skin can lead to the entrance of this organism into our body.
Candida is primarily an opportunistic infection. Healthy human body (Immuno competent) can effectively ward off the development of candida infection, but individuals who have a weak immunity (Immunocompromised), babies, elderly are more likely to suffer from Candidiasis.
Common Candida symptoms include hormonal imbalance, mood disorder, chronic fatigue, oral thrush, recurring vaginal and urinary tract infection, etc. So, before going into the details of candida symptoms, let’s find out possible causes of this fungal infection.
Possible Causes of Candida Infection – Who could develop one?
As we discussed, candida naturally occurs in conjunction with the human body. The breach in the skin lining helps it in gaining entry into our bloodstream. Most people already have Candida albicans in their digestive tract. The fungus gaining entry in our body doesn’t cause candidiasis.
Candidiasis is not an isolated infectious disease. It is instead a symptom of the disordered immune system. Typically, healthy bacteria inside your body keep candida under control. But there are numerous precipitating factors (1) or trigger factors which work in unison to lead to overproduction of candida.
Immunosuppression – HIV/AIDS & Cancer Patients
Immunocompromised patients such as those suffering from HIV infection, candida infections can occur throughout the body, especially oral candidiasis (2) and can be life-threatening. In such patients, Candida can affect eye, heart, kidney, lungs, liver and spleen.
According to a study (3), invasive candidiasis causes severe complications in cancer treatments. Individuals undergoing chemotherapy can suffer from systemic candidiasis due to the collapsed immune system.
Babies and Elderly People
Newborns and elderly are more prone to candidiasis. Candidiasis (oral thrush) occurs in about 6% of babies less than a month old. Even a diaper rash can cause Candidiasis on the irritated area.
Elderly individuals wearing dentures are affected by these opportunistic infections dentures can sometimes irritate the mucous membrane.
Due to the loss of their muscle tone in elderly individuals, saliva sometimes starts dropping from the corner of the mouth, which can cause candidiasis.
Usage of Antibiotics, Contraceptives & Steroids
Antibiotic abuse can bring about tolerance in the Candida albicans that predominate the gut, leading to their manifestation. Even the use of Contraceptive pills, especially after a course of antibiotics can lead to candida overgrowth syndrome.
Corticosteroids also affect the tolerance of our body giving leeway for candida to proliferate (4).
Diabetes Patients & People with High Sugar Diet
In diabetics, high levels of glucose blind the receptors in your immune system that identify pathogens, while the fungus thrives on the high blood sugar.
Candida is a fungus, and it thrives on sugar. Hence, the mouth of diabetic patients and someone who is on high sugar diet will have a high chance of candida growth.
Chronic stress and Nutritional Deficiency
Chronic stress is known to change the colonisation patterns of microorganisms in your gut. It also leads to release of cortisol in our blood.
These factors work in conjunction leading to aggressive colonisation of Candida albicans. Nutritional deficiency can also lead to dropping in the serotonin level leading to candida overgrowth.
Mononucleosis has also been found to be a leading factor for candidiasis.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In Hormone replacement therapy, Candida can sometimes mimic the hormone estrogen causing an imbalance and leading to its growth.
Mercury in Dental Fillings and Chemical Exposure
Mercury in dental fillings irritated the lining of the oral mucous membrane which can give entry to the candida into the bloodstream. Chemical exposure may also act as a predisposing factor for candidiasis.
Candida overgrowth syndrome can occur in different parts of the body, in ways that may be unique to that particular person. For these reasons, Candida is often misdiagnosed.
Common Candida symptoms that you should know
1. Oral Thrush
Oral thrush (moniliasis) can be classified using the Lehner system, broadly into acute infection and chronic infection. Superficial candida skin infections appear as a flat red rash. Slight bleeding occurs when lesions are rubbed or scraped.
When the candida penetrates in the oral lining, creamy white lesions appear on the tongue, inner cheeks, the roof of your mouth, gums and tonsils. There is a loss of taste and a cottony feeling in the mouth.
Burning or soreness can cause difficulty in eating or swallowing. Oesophagal candidiasis causes difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Sinus infection is one of the most common candida symptoms. If you are suffering from a persistent cough, post-nasal drip or increase in nasal congestion then you need to visit your doctor at the earliest. Candidiasis often mimics seasonal allergies and flu-like conditions.
3. Recurring Vaginal and Urinary Tract Infections
Candida can be a sexually transmitted disease. Females should avoid conception during the active infection period. Tight underwear, tight-fitting pantyhose should also be avoided.
4. Nailbed infection
Candia infection occurring under the nail bed is known as onychomycosis. This condition most commonly affects toenails and sometimes even fingernails. The nail becomes thickened and discoloured either white, black or yellow.
- Suggested Read – 7 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus Treatment
The nails become brittle, and it breaks off easily. The skin around the nails becomes swollen and often produce foul smell (6).
5. Gastrointestinal candidiasis
The imbalance of gut flora can cause gastrointestinal candidiasis. The symptoms include belching, bloating, indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea, gas, intestinal cramps, vomiting and in some cases gastric ulcer.
6. Chronic fatigue
Chronic fatigue is also one of the most common Candida symptoms which can last for a minimum of six months. Other Candida symptoms which can accompany this are headaches, joint pain, difficulty concentrating, poor physical coordination and brain fog.
Fatigue can happen to kids as well. However, chronic fatigue is more prominent in adolescents than young kids (7).
7. Mood disorder
An array of mood disorder is seen associated with Candida. Extreme mood swings, anxiety, irritability, depression and sometimes even panic attacks.
8. Hormonal Imbalance
Candida infection can cause a disturbance in the hormonal balance of our body. Candida is known to mimic the female hormone estrogen, and thus the condition is aggravated in females.
Early menopause, agitation around PMS, low libido, migraines during menstruation, endometriosis are some of the candida symptoms.
How to cure candidiasis?
As you are aware that candida may reside in your body without creating any health issues, provided your body should have enough resistance in the form of good bacteria to keep the candida production under control.
Therefore, the only way to cure and prevent candidiasis is by working at the primary level such as food habits, diet plan, etc. What you eat will decide the amount of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
We just saw that refined sugars, high lactose dairy products and bad carbs could overproduce candida. Also, you can opt for a healthy lifestyle by leaving alcohol intake and living a stress-free life. There are natural ways to fight candida infections, and they are:
Aloe vera gel could come in handy in the treatment of oral thrush. It can hinder the growth of Candida in the mouth (8).
A study suggests that pomegranate can prevent Candida yeasts (9).
A study suggests that polyphenols and acetic acid present in Kombucha tea could kill Candida.
Probiotics, such as Lactobacillus, are a great dietary supplement which may reduce Candida growth and prevent such infections (10).
Different studies have shown that lauric acid present in coconut oil can fight Candida infections (12).
Over to you
Typically, candida is not life-threatening. But negligence and spread of this fungal infection can enter the bloodstream. Fungus circulating in the bloodstream could be fatal as it could affect vital body organs such as heart and brain (15, 16).
It is imperative to treat candidacies as soon as you see candida symptoms.