You may not have heard of candida albicans – a common species of yeast – but you almost certainly harbor it in your digestive tract. In fact, there are more than 20 types of candida, and most of the time they cause zero problems. It’s only when your body’s natural pH balance is upset that they can grow out of control, causing a whole range of health problems if left unchecked.
From anxiety to allergies, the list of candida symptoms seems endless, making it even harder for doctors to diagnose. But understanding the wide reach of candida is the first step to figuring out whether it’s behind any of your health problems. To give you a helping hand, here are seven of the most common candida symptoms to look out for.
1. Chronic Fatigue
We all have those days when getting out of bed is a challenge, but for those with chronic fatigue, it’s a daily struggle. CFS is marked by debilitating fatigue, accompanied by aches, pains, poor memory and digestive upset. While there is no one cause, naturopaths are increasingly looking towards candida overgrowth as a potentially underlying cause. Although more research needs to be carried out, some studies have suggested that an anti-candida diet may help alleviate the symptoms of chronic fatigue.
2. Vaginal Thrush
The occasional bout of thrush may be an irritating fact of life for many women, but frequent yeast infections can be a sign of something more worrying. The yeast in this area can overgrow quickly if the environment changes, leading to a nasty case of thrush. But for the few who suffer from frequent infections, an overgrowth of candida may be at the root of the problem.
3. Oral Thrush
It’s not just women who experience the discomfort of a yeast infection. Oral thrush is actually caused by the same strain of candida that affects other mucous membranes, including the vagina. However, it’s much easier to spread. That means newborn babies can be infected during birth; adults can get it through kissing; and children can spread the infection just by sharing toys.
4. Intestinal Distress
Your doctor may chalk up ongoing digestive distress to IBS, but actually there may be more going on. Burping, bloating, diarrhea and flatulence are all among the symptoms of candida overgrowth, as well as a lack of healthy bacteria in the gut. Studies have shown that too much yeast can make the digestive tract a hostile place for good bacteria, leading to greater inflammation and more digestive troubles. That’s why a probiotic like lactobacillus acidophilus is so useful in treating stomach upset – it gives the good bacteria the boost it needs to win the battle against candida.
5. Hormonal Imbalance
Pregnancy and birth control can be triggers of yeast infections. That’s because the boost in estrogen can throw your system out of whack, leading to the unregulated growth of candida. But estrogen isn’t just the cause of candida – it can also be the result.
While in the midst of candida overgrowth, inflammation runs riots, prompting the yeast to spread beyond the digestive tract. One of the byproducts of candida actually mimics estrogen, leading to further hormonal imbalance. Whether it presents itself in the form of mood swings, low libido or PMS, you’ll certainly know about it.
If you struggle with chronic allergies, candida may well be to blame. This is all thanks to intestinal permeability, or Leaky Gut Syndrome – a common symptom of candida overgrowth. In fact, 71 percent of patients suffering from chronic vaginal thrush also report seasonal allergies – a connection that many people draw up to candida.
7. Depression and Anxiety
The gut and the brain are more closely connected than you may think. In fact, much of the body's hormone production occurs in the intestinal tract, with 90 to 95 percent of serotonin being produced in the intestines. However, when the candida population begins to grow out of control, it reduces the production of these neurotransmitters, potentially leading to depression and anxiety.
Read our recent article The Best Natural Foods Supplements to Help Kick Chronic Fatigue for more ideas to help strengthen your mind and body.