This is the third part of our comprehensive guide about Candida. This part will help you figure out if you have a yeast problem, and will help you make a plan to get rid of it if you have it.
How do You Know You Have a Candida Infection?
The most concerning thing about some microbial infections is that they progress slowly. It all starts with minor symptoms, such as indigestion, or constipation. Then the indigestions become more frequent, and you start to become fatigued. Then it all progresses slowly, but by that time you already forgot how it was when you were healthy. Arthritis kicks in, fatigue becomes chronic, or we get migraines. At this point we think it’s the age, but really, it is not.
Why is so hard to diagnose a Candida problem? Many of the symptoms are very generic, and resemble the symptoms of other ailments. It is very easy to misdiagnose it without test. The real problem is that even with a concrete numbers we can be deceived. The tests will show a normal range of Candida population, but that range can be too high for you.
Because the symptoms for candidiasis are so common, a self “diagnosis” cannot be trusted. To know for sure whether or not you have a Candida infection, you must seek professional help. The professional, (a naturopath, or your family doctor), can perform, or prescribe various tests to identify if there is a problem. The naturopath will swab the infected area, or take a blood sample, and have this cultured on a petri dish so the microorganism(s) causing the infection can be identified down to species. The ability to identify the specific species may be important if you are immune-compromised. For example, Candida parapsilosis is more likely than other species to cause sepsis, (system wide infection that can be life threatening). For cases like this, you may want to seek specialized medical supervision rather than try to self treat.
How Is Candida Diagnosed?
These are the tests to determine if you have a yeast problem:
Candida antibody blood test will show if you are allergic to it. This is a great test because it will show if your condition is linked to Candida disregarding the actual levels of it in your body.
Stool testing is a relatively reliable test when your levels are higher than the normal range. If your levels fall within the normal range you might still be affected by a higher than normal sensitivity to the yeast, and that means you still have to fight against it.
A detailed questionnaire will tell your doctor more about your condition, and allow them to have a better perspective. The score on the questionnaire are corroborated with your health history and will give you and your doctor a clearer picture.
Electro-dermal testing is sometimes useful, especially when combined with other diagnosis tools.
Swabs of the affected area are cultured on petri dish and then examined in a microbiology lab.
Blood tests are also performed by specialized labs, and they measure the immune response to Candida. High levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies can indicate an overgrowth.
Urine Tartaric Acid Test will measure the levels of this compound in your urine. Urine Tartaric Acid Test is a waste product of Candida, and elevated levels of it indicate an overgrowth.
The Spit Test – Do It at Home
Or we should rather say don’t do it, it’s useless. The spittle test is one of the most popular tests, and many websites recommend it. The problem with the test is that it is not reliable. It gives both false positive and false negative results. Yes, the test will show you that you have thicker saliva, but thick saliva can be also caused by many other things like allergies, dehydration, and ingesting dairy products.
First of all, do not treat only external Candida, treat the internal as well. Whenever there is an outbreak of the pesky yeast on the outside, (vagina, skin, scalp, mouth, etc…), it means there is a problem in the inside too. Yes, the external problem can be more annoying, and it’s relatively easy to get rid of. But the overgrowth in the intestine is more dangerous over time, if it’s not treated. It is now believed that abnormal colonies of yeast can lead to serious problems such as: intestinal bowel disorders, low immunity, arthritis, cancer, and even coronary artery disease.
The problem with yeast overgrowth is that the symptoms are progressive. The yeast takes over your body slowly, so you never realize there might be a medical problem, you think that you are getting older. Sure, age plays a role, and many times it is the reason the yeast can grow faster. But if you were to avoid sugar and other simple carbohydrates, Candida could not overgrow.
Here are the steps you need to take for a successful eradication of Candida.
Diet – Eliminate sugar and alcohol, as they are your worst enemies when fighting Candida.
Antifungals – Get an antifungal, external to treat the local problem, and an antifungal for your internal overgrowth – the real cause of your condition.
Liver protection – While killing Candida, it releases toxins that need to be flushed out of your body. Your liver will work more during the cleansing.
Probiotics and Prebiotics – Start on probiotics immediately after the antifungal. Probiotics are the most efficient way to fight yeast. The problem is that you can’t start with them because of the die-off symptoms. Prebiotics are a way to feed the beneficial bacteria already in your gut. It’s one of the most efficient ways to control our microbiome.
Exercise – Physical activity has been proven to maintain a healthy microflora, and to encourage the growth of beneficial microbes in our gut. By exercising we create the perfect chemical balance for the microbiome.
Healthy life – Mental stress, and overall anxiety, insufficient sleep and rest are triggers for yeast overgrowth. A healthy, balanced life will encourage good bacteria to multiply and good bacterial populations will prevent Candida overgrowth.
What Encourages Candida Infections?
Candida LOVES sugar!! Therefore, if you have a lot of sugar in your diet, you are providing it the PERFECT environment to start multiplying and getting out of hand. Many bottled drinks and most processed foods contain enough sugar to cause Candida infections! Processed foods include most deli take out foods and restaurant foods. READ the LABEL! Corn syrup is still sugar, cane syrup is still sugar.
If you have elevated blood sugar, as in pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, you will be much more susceptible to Candida infections. Keep in mind that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that more than one-third of the American population has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, many without knowing it for years!
Don’t worry though too much about the alkalinity of your body fluids, it’s very hard to control that. It’s easier to control the ph in your stomach. Normally, your stomach is acid enough to ensure Candida cannot multiply in the stomach, or in the small intestine. If your stomach doesn’t produce enough acid though, the yeast can multiply easier and spread further. Take digestive enzymes and consume unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar. Use it in your salads.
Hormonal fluctuations encourage candidiasis as well. Hormonal changes can be triggered by numerous factors such as pregnancy, the premenstrual cycle phase, taking birth control pills, taking other prescription medications such as corticosteroids, and during the changes of life. Hormonal fluctuations can also be triggered by extended periods of stress such as dealing with a serious illness, dealing with tough financial issues, taking exams, dealing with stressful working conditions, or while caring for a loved one who is sick or dying.
A weak gut microbiome will encourage yeast overgrowth. A strong gut microbiome will ensure yeast cannot overgrow. Candida albicans and other yeasts serve as food for your intestinal flora, in normal conditions. But if your microbiome is weak, and is not fed the proper foods, (indigestible carbohydrates), yeast can multiply faster.
Anyone with a weakened immune system is more susceptible to Candida infections. This includes babies, the elderly, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, individuals who are HIV positive, those who have received an organ transplant, those with a low neutrophil count, smokers, alcoholics, insomniacs, obese people, those with an autoimmune disease, and anyone who has had a cold or flu for an extended time.
Many other conditions can also encourage uncontrolled Candida growth. A very common cause is the antibiotics administration. While antibiotics can fix bacterial infections, they can also disrupt your microbiome in such a way that makes it much easier for Candida to overgrow.
Other conditions include wearing dentures or a retainer and this can promote thrush. Also, wearing unbreathable and or tight clothing creates wet and warm places that Candida loves!
In the next part of this guide, we will show you what are the symptoms associated with Candida, and you’ll be amazed to recognize many of your symptoms.