Candida is a type of fungus that is commonly found on the skin and in the gut and is usually harmless until an overgrowth occurs. An overgrowth of Candida in the gut can cause flare-ups of existing gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on the part of the body involved. Symptoms of Candida in the gut may include:
Some practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) claim that an overgrowth of Candida in the gut can also cause yeast syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, migraines, headache, and poor memory. They often advise a Candida cleanse for this condition, which is a diet that eliminates sugar, white flour, yeast, and cheese.
Although there is little evidence that dietary changes can stop yeast overgrowth in the gut, adopting healthy diet habits can definitely keep your gut bacteria healthy.
6 causes of Candida overgrowth in the gut
Typically, Candida overgrowth is prevented by a healthy immune system and balanced bacterial flora in the gut. When these two factors are affected, Candida can build up in the gut and cause infection:
- Gut inflammation: Diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease predispose a person to Candida overgrowth because there are already lesions in the gut that can be easily infected by fungi.
- Diabetes: Diabetes increases blood sugar levels, which creates a favorable environment for fungal buildup.
- Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use: PPI is used in the treatment of acid reflux. The decrease in acid production increases the risk of bacterial and fungal buildup.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics, especially the broad-spectrum ones, kill a lot of good bacteria in the gut that are used to fight against the Candida.
- Steroid use: Long-term use of steroids can affect the immune system and increases the risk of bacterial infection in the body.
- Immunosuppressive drugs: Anticancer drugs affect immune cells and increase the risk of bacterial buildup.
How do you diagnose Candida in the gut?
To diagnose Candida gut infection, a stool sample is taken to make cultures and assess the level of fungal growth.
While a small amount of Candida in the gut is normal, a higher amount causes concern when symptoms of infection are already present. Your doctor may insert a small scope into your stomach (endoscopy) to observe the walls of the gut. They may also take a tiny sample of your intestinal lining (biopsy) to check for Candida growth.
Can Candida overgrowth be prevented?
You can prevent Candida overgrowth by taking measures to combat predisposing factors:
How do you treat Candida in the gut?
Treatment of Candida overgrowth in the gut involves:
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