The candida yeast infection is a fungal infection that affects the digestive tract or exterior of the body of both men and women. The fungi become prevalent enough that they cause infections, especially in warm and moist areas. Examples include thrush (mouth and throat), vaginal yeast infections, skin and diaper rash.
Candida albicans first invades the gastrointestinal tract, then spreads to other parts of the body. When the candida yeast becomes big enough, it becomes a fungus and attaches to the intestinal wall. A yeast infection can wreak havoc on your GI tract, causing abdominal pain, bloating, distention, gas, diarrhea or constipation. It can also compromise your immune system, which leads to a whole other set of problems.
Yeast Infection Causes
It is perfectly normal to have small amounts of candida in your body. In fact, the protective bacteria acidophillus and bifidus in our bodies use it as food. When the protective bacteria is killed off, the candida beings to multiply, causing the infection.
Here’s a list of some of the most common causes of yeast infections:
1. Antibiotics - A common cause of candida, antibiotics destroy both bad and good bacteria. When friendly bacteria is destroyed, the candida can multiply easier.
2. Birth Control Pills - contain mostly estrogen. Excessive estrogen in your body can elevate blood sugar level thereby promoting yeast candida overgrowth. Furthermore, birth control pills may suppress the good bacteria in your gut, which allows yeast candida to proliferate in the GI tract.
So, birth control has been shown to be a common cause of yeast growth in women.
3. Parasites and Intestinal Worms - They can destroy friendly bacteria in the intestines making yeast overgrowth more likely.
4. Hormonal Imbalance - Adequate amounts of estrogen and progesterone are needed to support friendly intestinal flora, naturally occurring organisms in the body. The imbalance can cause yeast overgrowth.
5. Immune Deficiency - AIDS and cancer are the most high-profiled examples, but any immune deficiency can cause a yeast infection.
6. Excessive Stress - Stress causes the release of cortisol (adrenal glands hormone), which depresses the immune system and raises blood sugar. High levels of cortisol in the blood have been associated with lowered immunity and elevated blood sugar. Under normal conditions, your healthy immune system can detect and eliminate harmful substances. But with a depressed immune system, yeast overgrowth becomes a stronger possibility.
7. Constipation - While constipation can be a symptom of candida, it can also cause it. Constipation causes accumulation of toxins in your gut, which creates a perfect environment for parasites and candida yeast overgrowth.
8. Drugs and Alcohol - Alcohol should always be used in moderation, especially since it can destroy friendly bacteria. And any drug (legal or not) that causes a gastrointestinal side effect can, in turn, cause yeast growth.
9. Hypothyroid - The thyroid gland affects the health of your immune system. It’s also connected to a healthy digestive system, as constipation is often common with low thyroid. All of the above of are potential risks for yeast infection.
10. Diabetes - Diabetics are at a higher risk of contracting yeast infections. Yeast feeds on sugars like glycogen and glucose.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
The symptoms of a yeast infection vary depending on the location of the infection. For women, a vaginal yeast infection will cause white cheesy discharge that makes the area itchy. There can also be pain during sexual intercourse or burning with urination.
The symptoms of oral candidiasis (thrush) include white patches on top of a red base under the tongue, palate, or elsewhere in the mouth.
In the case of people with a immune system deficiency, candidal infections can affect internal organs and cause pain or dysfunction of those organs. In fact, approximately 85 percent of people with AIDS contract a yeast infection.
Candida can produce more than 90 symptoms, which makes it somewhat confusing for people to understand what they are actually experiencing.
Since candida albicans is on the surface of all living things, vaginal and other smears and cultures are not useful. Diagnosing candidiasis is done with the patient’s medical history and their score on a questionnaire.
It is particularly important to have a stool test performed, before and after a full candida cleanse. Metametrix Clinical Laboratory offers a simple GI Function Stool Test. It only requires one sample collection. This GI Function Stool Test looks for:
- Immune function and gluten sensitivity
- Pharmaceutical and botanical sensitivities
- Cancer-preventative short chain fatty acids
- Pancreatic function
- Markers for digestion and absorption
The GI Function Stool Test can be used to diagnose many things. But it’s most often used to diagnose the underlying causes of chronic health problems, including balancing beneficial microbial flora in your gut to enhance your health.
Many diagnosed conditions can be connected to a yeast infection. In fact, candida yeast infections are often connected to:
- Endocrine dysfunction (thyroid, adrenals, pancreas)
While the recommendations of a yeast-free diet are effective for some people, it is still best to have advice tailored to your individual needs. It should be based on the results of your testing and medical history because we all have a unique biological makeup, with different health requirements.