Overall, Candida albicans is the most common cause of yeast infections in people.
In most healthy individuals, this species of yeast is a commensal or symbiotic (harmless or even mutually beneficial) organism. It dwells on the skin and in the mouth, genitalia, and gastrointestinal tracts.
However, in people with poor immune function or other health problems, Candida albicans can cause irritating or even life-threatening yeast infections that can be very difficult to overcome.
Keep reading to learn the two main forms Candida overgrowth takes, the symptoms of candida overgrowth to watch out for, and a crash course in how to reduce your risk of recurrent Candida infection.
The 2 Main Forms of Candida
Nearly everyone has heard of yeast infection, but are you aware of the hyphal form of Candida?
Changes in environmental factors including temperature, nutrient availability, and pH can cause the yeast form of Candida to shift to the hyphal form.
In a nutshell, hyphal cells are a filament-like form of Candida that is more invasive than the common yeast form. They allow the organism to penetrate tissues, colonize organs, and survive by escaping immune cells.
Unlike relatively common yeast infections, which can affect up to half of women, when Candida goes hyphal, it can be life-threatening. Some statistics show a mortality rate of up to 40% with this form of Candida.
There are two main risk factors for invasive candidiasis, the most serious type of Candida overgrowth that involves hyphal cells. One is an existing existing yeast infection, and the second is inflammation and/or a compromised immune system.
If you notice any symptoms of Candida overgrowth it’s vital to speak to a trusted health care provider and take immediate action to boost your immune system.
5 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
#1: Vaginal Itching, Rash, or Discharge
Vaginal itching is the most common and earliest symptom of most vaginal yeast infections. In some cases, itching is the only symptom.
Second, a red rash in the folds of your vagina is also a classic sign of yeast infection. Rashes caused by Candida can spread to the skin near your vagina, too.
Third, if you notice an unusual vaginal discharge, it could also be caused by a yeast infection. Usually, candidiasis results in a white discharge with an appearance similar to cottage cheese, but it can also be watery and clear.
The majority of women experience yeast infections in their lifetime, and most recover just fine. However, half of women have recurrent vaginal yeast infections that diminish their quality of life and enjoyment of sex.
If you have what appear to be symptoms of vaginal yeast infection, speak to a doctor. That way, you can rule out other causes before you attempt to treat a yeast infection.
While Candida is not sexually transmitted, most of the symptoms can also be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
#2: Oral Thrush
Oral thrush, also called oral candidiasis, is a condition where Candida accumulates on the lining of your mouth or throat.
While Candida normally lives in most healthy people’s mouths, sometimes it causes symptoms due to overgrowth.
Here’s what to watch for:
- Creamy white lesions on your tongues or inner cheeks
- Lesions may also occur on the roof of your mouth or on your gums, tonsils, or the back of your throat
- Redness, burning, or soreness in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lesions may bleed when scraped or irritated
- Loss of taste or oral sensations
While oral thrush can affect anyone, it’s more common in babies and senior citizens due to reduced immune activity in these groups.
It also occurs in people who take immunosuppressant medications, people with autoimmune disorders, and other people who have weakened immune systems.
#3: Chronic Fatigue and Unexplained Tiredness
Not all fatigue is caused by Candida overgrowth, but if you have unexplained tiredness and fatigue, it just might be worth looking into candidiasis.
Candidiasis occurs most often in people with a compromised immune system and nutrient deficiencies, and it can contribute to feelings of fatigue and tiredness.
A study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses even suggests that undiagnosed Candida in your gut may be the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.
#4: Hair, Skin, or Nail Fungus
As is the case with your genitals and mouth, normally “healthy” bacteria on your scalp, skin, and nails prevent out-of-control Candida growth.
But if you’re immunocompromised or something else has changed recently–for instance, trying a new hygiene product that causes irritation–you may experience a brand-new infection in these areas.
Candidiasis can affect any part of your body, but is most likely to affect warm, moist areas like your armpits, skin folds, and groin.
Believe it or not, Candida can also be behind conditions like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus.
#5: “Superinfection” or Resistance to Antifungals
If you have a recurrent Candida overgrowth problem, you may have developed a “superinfection.”
The main sign of a superinfection is resistance to antibiotics and antifungals. The result? Your Candida keeps coming back over and over!
Unfortunately, modern drugs can “select” for resistant strains of Candida. That means if you keep experiencing yeast infections and other symptoms of overgrowth, it’s time to try something new.
How to Ease Candida Overgrowth Symptoms
If you’re suffering from Candida overgrowth, here are some effective tips to ease your symptoms:
- If you’re a long-term antibiotic user, ask your doctor about stopping them or reducing your dose to improve your Candida overgrowth.
- Reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbs.
- Consider drinking less alcohol. Chronic alcohol consumption can increase your risk of oral candidiasis.
- Decrease your stress levels. High stress levels compromise your immune system and may raise the likelihood of Candida overgrowth.
Remember, any effective method to address Candida works in one of two ways. Either by increasing your immune function (as well as reducing autoimmunity), or by directly targeting your Candida infection.
That’s why the #1 way to address Candida overgrowth is with the one-two punch of the Candida Cleanse paired with an Elimination Diet.
This treatment regimen requires one-on-one attention with a medical provider. Consider calling the office of Dr. Gala at Complete Care Centers in Eagle Point, Oregon to set up an appointment for a consultation.
You’re also welcome to ask questions about any symptoms of Candida overgrowth you may be experiencing.