Even experienced doctors face a challenge in accurately diagnosing Candida Related Complex because the symptoms are different in each sufferer. In fact, some symptoms are unique to an individual and symptoms may affect various body parts.
As a result of this, and other factors, Candida sufferers frequently face misdiagnosis. Doctors who don’t place much emphasis on how important a healthy gut is, may end up treating symptoms instead of the root cause. The chronic fatigue you suffer may be labeled depression and your issues with digestion may be linked to IBS. The real reason for your symptoms, gut flora imbalance, may not be found out or even treated.
As with other syndromes, Candida’s symptoms can affect different body parts at different times. While tests to determine Candida overgrowth exist, patients are often the ones who come up with the possible diagnosis. Considering your symptoms as a whole can help you to determine if an underlying problem with your gut flora could be their possible cause.
What though is Candida?
Candida actually refers to a fungus that plays a role in digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Candida becomes a concern when it is overproduced, at which point, it may break down the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream. This breakdown releases toxins and allows other toxins in your system to escape, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.
This overproduction causes a kind of yeast infection that is most common in the intestinal tract, mouth, and vagina. It can also affect mucous membranes and the skin. Although Candida is hardly life-threatening to someone with a good immune system, it can spread to the brain and heart membranes as well as the blood.
An upset in the pH balance of your body can cause this overgrowth and its related problems. Other causative and contributory factors include a diet high in refined carbohydrates, alcohol and sugar can that increase yeast growth, broad spectrum, strong antibiotics, birth control pills, Oral Corticosteroids, diabetes, cancer treatments and anything that weakens the immune system.
Candida’s overgrowth can possibly trigger symptoms and signs including, but not limited to, brain fog, chronic fatigue, digestive problems, joint pain, low mood, persisting yeast infections, and sinus infections. Sufferers may develop intolerance or allergy to foods possibly, eggs, gluten, corn and dairy products. Generally speaking, there are a lot more persons afflicted with Candida than the few who have been correctly diagnosed. You may notice one or more of these symptoms if you are a Candida sufferer. They all have some relation to imbalanced gut flora.
Below is a list of some of the most prevalent symptoms of Candida that might be affecting you:
- A weakened immune system
- Allergies/intolerances to certain foods
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive problems
- Fungal infections on the nails and skin
- Joint pain
- Mild depression/Low mood
- Oral thrush
- Sinus infections
- Yeast infections that persist
You may suffer from most or a few of the symptoms listed above. We can consider how these symptoms manifest themselves first, then, I will list other symptoms that you may face that are less common.
A Weakened Immune System
You may recall that the Candida infection can be caused by a weak immune system. However, Candida infections further reduce the ability of your immune system to effectively protect you. It does this in three main ways.
An imbalance in gut flora
Believe it or not, the intestines play a major role in immunity. Research shows that the yeast and bacteria in your gut keep your immune system in a state of readiness to defend you against pathogens. If these microorganisms within your gut are not properly balanced, then your immunity is compromised. This imbalance leads to leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Often caused by Candida overgrowth, this condition, also called intestinal permeability, causes an intense immune response and inflammation. The unnecessary inflammation and sensitivity to food that result further exert your already overworked immune system. This also allows toxins to escape before being eliminated and re-enter your bloodstream.
HPA Axis Dysfunction /Adrenal Fatigue
Candida infections also pressure your HPA Axis and adrenal glands. Your immunity depends on these organs. The chronic fatigue and inability to properly absorb nutrients may result in hormone imbalances that make the adrenal system weaker. Candida infections that last a while may disturb neurotransmitters such as cortisol, which play a regulatory role in the immune system, as well as hormone levels.
If you suffer from one or more of the conditions listed above or you find yourself being afflicted with flu and colds easily, you may have an imbalance in your gut flora that may very well be attributed to Candida.
Allergies/Intolerances to certain Foods
This is a legacy of Leaky Gut Syndrome. When the Candida fungus grows hyphae, long branches that go through your intestinal walls, it makes your intestinal membrane very permeable allowing food and toxins to enter the bloodstream.
Your immune system pegs these escaped substances as foreign. It neutralizes bacteria and toxins. However, its attempts to ‘fight’ food particles result in the side effects you experience when you eat a particular food. When the food particles go into your bloodstream, your body regards them as threats since they don’t belong there. Each time you eat these foods, your body recognizes them as threats and responds as such.
The reason for your confusion, brain fog, inability to focus or remember things is a chemical called acetaldehyde. This is one of the products of the metabolic processes of Candida. Although there are 79 chemical bi-products of Candida metabolism, of which uric acid and ammonia are two, acetaldehyde is most likely to affect your health and how you feel. When Candida overgrows, the acetaldehyde levels in your gut are high; it gets released into your bloodstream because it is not eliminated quickly enough and so it reaches your brain and nervous system.
High acetaldehyde levels affect your mental processes because the high acetaldehyde concentration:
Reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells to which it binds and slows the speed at which they travel.
Triggers vitamin B1 deficiency, an essential vitamin for brain health.
Damages nerve cells similarly to how Alzheimer’s or chronic alcoholism does.
Are you always tired? An imbalance in your gut flora caused by Candida overgrowth could be at fault. This can affect how energetic you feel in more ways than one.
When you take antibiotics, for example, it immediately affects your nutrient absorption. This is because antibiotics destroy both the bad and good bacteria in your gut. Your gut is where the breaking down, processing, and absorption of nutrients occurs.
When Candida (or any pathogen) expands until it disturbs this gentle balance your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is adversely affected. Resultantly, food may simply go through your gut before being properly digested and the nutrients absorbed. For prolonged periods, this causes fatigue because your body just does not have the things it needs to perform at its best.
While this is taking place, the metabolic processes of the Candida overgrowth release various chemicals, most of which are toxic. Among these is the neurotoxin acetaldehyde which also is responsible for hangovers.
Normally, a healthy person’s liver is able to process acetaldehyde released by the Candida in small quantities easily. However, in a person with Candida overgrowth, the liver faces a struggle to process the significantly greater acetaldehyde concentration resulting in a build-up. Like a traffic jam slows all cars, so this build-up slows your other bodily processes. Not to be forgotten is the fact that energy storage is the liver’s responsibility.
Finally, chronic fatigue results when Candida gradually wears down the immune system and liver to the point where other organs are pressured. An example of this is adrenal fatigue which normally coincides with Candida overgrowth. This happens because your body’s resources are focused on eliminating the toxic products of Candida while maintaining your energy level. After a while, this depletes hormonal precursors necessary to manufacture essential hormones such as cortisol, DHEA, and pregnenolone. As these hormonal levels fall, so does your energy level and libido.
Since Candida is directly related to your gut and the alteration in your digestive tract is what results in the other symptoms it follows that your digestive tract will face noticeable issues as well. Whether your Candida is as a result of antibiotics, a constant diet rich in highly sugary or processed food or some other cause, it affects your body’s ability to digest food. The good bacteria which aid in processing fiber, starch, and some sugars are depleted and overworked.
When Candida overwhelms the good bacteria, your large and small intestines don’t function properly. You may face bloating, constipation, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and gas among other digestive issues.
Fungal Infections On The Nails And Skin
Bacteria are present on your skin and in your nails similar to those in your gut, in defense against pathogens. They are called microbiota or skin flora.
Your diet, medication and other things ingested that affect your gut and mouth can also affect your skin. Fungus especially loves moist, warm areas so your groin and armpits are most susceptible.
Similar to oral thrush, if you change your skin’s environment (primarily internal), you will be able to eradicate fungal infections over time. The same antifungals, probiotics and diet low in sugar and processed foods that reverse Candida infections in the intestine can eliminate infections in the skin caused by fungus.
Candida also releases uric acid which can cause pain in your body. High uric acid levels may cause stiff, painful and swollen joints and ultimately gout. These pains may come on suddenly and persist until you address the root cause. In the long run, high uric acid levels can permanently impair your joints and tendons.
Mild Depression / Low Mood
The other symptoms of Candida – being excessively fatigued, joint pain, mental and digestive issues – may leave you feeling low. However, Candida can directly cause depression.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps improve your mood, can be produced in smaller quantities than usual because of Candida overgrowth. Since most Serotonin is made in the gut, an issue with your gut is likely to affect its production.
Another neurotransmitter affected by intestinal Candida infection is Dopamine. When Dopamine levels are low, it can result in depression. Acetaldehyde which is a by-product of Candida binds with Dopamine. This is a possible explanation for alcoholism’s link with depression.
Finally, when your liver is overworked your vitamin B12 storage and overall use is affected. Low Vitamin B12 levels are found to have a link to mental illness and depression.
At the end of it all, to win the fight against Candida infection, you need to maintain the good bacteria in your gut and a good immune system.
Candidiasis can also affect the mouth. In fact, oral thrush is very common. It often goes unnoticed until it gets very bad. A Candida infection of the intestine usually happens concurrently with oral thrush due to the fact that your mouth is a part of your digestive tract and usually faces the same alterations in environment as the gut.
Really your diet, the medications you take and anything else you ingest affect both your mouth and your gut. If conditions in your gut are favorable to Candida infections, chances are conditions in your mouth are as well.
Persisting Yeast Infections
The most obvious sign of Candida overgrowth is yeast infections that don’t completely go away. These infections are usually vaginal. However, don’t get me wrong, Candida Related Complex can cause yeast infections anywhere on the body and even if it has a ‘favorite spot’ it can spread. You may rejoice when you see that your infection is gone it may continue to return until you get your Candida levels under control.
A common sign of Candida infections although not necessarily associated with Candida is sinus infections. This is because doctors, in the past, assumed that all sinus infections were bacterial. However, this is not always true. Long-term, chronic sinus infections can have their causes rooted in fungus.
Herein lies another problem. Antibiotics are the leading treatment for sinus infections. However, they are almost ineffective against a fungal infection. To make matters worse, they eliminate good bacteria, allowing the fungal infection room to proliferate. If your sinus infections last for a while and do not respond well to antibiotics, changing your diet to regain the balance of your gut flora might be your best bet.
Additional Symptoms of Candida
The symptoms previously considered represent the most common indications of an issue with Candida and there are more. An imbalance in your gut can affect your joints, neurotransmitter and hormone levels, liver, skin, immune system, among other things.
Candida Related Complex may give you symptoms like those that follow. Suffering from a few of these, coupled with some of the symptoms above, may suggest that you need to consider a gut flora imbalance when diagnosing the underlying issue. Symptoms that are seemingly unrelated that fall in either of these two lists may indicate Candida infection.
- Acid reflux/indigestion
- Cracked tongue
- Bleeding gums
- Body odor
- Cramps in the stomach
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy anus
- Flu and related symptoms
- Fungal skin rash
- Crying spells
- Mucus in stool
- Inability to lose weight
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Inability to coordinate properly
- Inability to focus
- Panic attacks
- Light sensitivity
- Water retention
- Low libido
- Muscle stiffness or aches
- Poor memory
- Sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals
- Sugar cravings
Misdiagnosis of Candida
Overgrowth of Candida is among the most occurring forms of gut dysbiosis which quite possibly is the leading and least comprehended reason for poor health. Digestive problems have reached epidemic proportions with millions of sufferers. Suffering from a combination of the symptoms above could mean that they have a common cause.
The thing is, you may go to the doctor and be treated for the symptom and not the real illness. You may get anti-depressants for your depression and antibiotics and creams for your infections, which may seem to work, but may make your infection worse. This may be because your doctor isn’t considering your symptoms as a whole or is not familiar with conditions like Candida that result from poor gut health. Candida may be mistaken for Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Crohn’s or IBS among others.
Remember, most persons want a ‘quick fix’ and doctors are inclined to give it to them. Resultantly, they may treat your symptoms without seeing the bigger picture. At the end of the day, you need to point out these trends to your doctor or another healthcare practitioner. You may wish to seek out a naturopath or an integrative doctor to take a holistic look and get to underlying issues affecting your health.