You may not like to think about it, but your body is home to many types of fungus. One of them is a group of yeasts known as candida. Small amounts can be found on the skin and in the mouth and intestines. Low levels of candida aren’t harmful to your health since the good bacteria in your body keep them under control.
However, if they begin to overproduce, you can get an infection known as candidiasis. Candida is responsible for most fungal infections in humans and it can lead to a variety of health problems. If you want to know how to prevent and treat candidiasis, keep reading.
Factors Which Can Lead to Candidiasis
Your diet and lifestyle can affect the likelihood that you develop candidiasis. Taking antibiotics and eating a diet that’s high in refined carbs and sugar can create the perfect environment for yeast to thrive. So too can consume large amounts of alcohol. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system or you take oral contraceptives, you are also at an increased risk of developing candidiasis.
Signs of Candida Overgrowth
Most people think about vaginal yeast infections when they hear about an overgrowth of yeast. However, this is only one way in which excess candida can affect the body. Several other conditions are associated with an overgrowth of candida. Let’s look at some of them:
- Oral thrush – When candidiasis occurs in the mouth or throat it is known as thrush. You may have heard about this condition in babies, but it also occurs in elderly people and individuals with a compromised immune system.
- Recurring genital or urinary tract infections – Yeast is present in the vagina of most women, but it isn’t problematic unless there is an overgrowth. If you’re experiencing symptoms of yeast overgrowth, this could be a sign that you have too much candida in your system. Candida can also cause UTIs.
- Digestive issues – To have good digestive health, the good and bad bacteria in your gut need to be in balance. If you have too much bad bacteria like yeast you can experience nausea, gas, constipation, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.
- Fatigue – Candida may not directly cause fatigue, but it can contribute to it. Yeast infections are often accompanied by deficiencies in magnesium, essential fatty acids, and vitamin B6. These deficiencies can make you feel tired.
- Sinus infections – Chronic sinus infections may be due to fungal infections. One study of individuals with chronic sinus infection found that the vast majority of them had fungi in their mucus.
How Can You Treat the Condition?
Since candida is a fungus, doctors usually recommend antifungal drugs to treat candidiasis. However, the exact treatment you get and the form it takes depends on your symptoms.
Handling a Urinary or Genital Infection
If you have an overgrowth of yeast in your urinary tract which is causing you discomfort, your doctor may prescribe fluconazole. For a mild or moderate vaginal yeast infection, doctors will usually treat it with an antifungal suppository, pill or cream. A single dose of oral medication is also an option. Some women find relief when they use homeopathic remedies. For serious or complicated infections, you may have to take medication for a longer period.
Getting Rid of Oral Thrush
Yeast in the mouth or throat can be treated with nystatin or clotrimazole in pill, liquid or lozenge form. Oral fluconazole may be prescribed for severe cases.
Treating Mucocutaneous Candidiasis
Simple skin infections are treated with antifungal creams with clotrimazole, miconazole or econazole. Doctors may also recommend steroid creams to relieve itching and swelling. If your infection is widespread, you may have to take oral medication.
How to Prevent a Yeast Infection
The above treatments are generally effective. However, it is best to manage the underlying cause of your infection and prevent further yeast overgrowth. One way to do this through your diet since food plays a significant role in balancing the bacteria in your gut.
Sugar, carbohydrates, gluten, and dairy can promote the growth of candida and other potentially harmful microorganisms. They create the acidic environment which yeast needs to thrive. If you already have a weakened immune system or other predispositions to candida infections, eating too much of these foods can increase the likelihood that you get an infection. Eliminating alcohol, bread, processed food, and sweet treats can help.
What to Eat Instead
When you remove the foods mentioned above, replace them with healthy fats and proteins. Certain foods help to promote the growth of good bacteria while limiting the growth of candida. If you want to prevent candida infections or supplement the antifungal treatment recommended by your doctor, consider using more:
- Aloe vera
If you need to take antibiotics for any reason, you should also take a probiotic like lactobacillus at the same time. This can reduce the growth of candida and help promote a healthy immune system. Probiotics also help to balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut. You can take probiotics in pill form or use foods like kombucha, yogurt, and kefir which contain live cultures.
Preventing Genital Infections
Since most women will get a vaginal yeast infection at least once, it’s worth discussing how you can avoid this. In addition to eating a healthy diet, certain hygiene practices and lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
Make sure you only clean your vagina with natural products that are free from harmful chemicals and strong fragrances. You should also try to wear cotton underwear whenever possible and change out of wet clothing as soon as you can. Another way to prevent infections is to change sanitary products like tampons and pads often.
Candida Infections in Summary
Candida is a natural occurrence in the body, and it doesn’t normally cause disease. However, when the good and bad bacteria in your body are thrown out of balance or your immune system is weak, candidiasis can develop. Most infections occur on the skin or in the vagina and they can be treated with antifungal medication. However, if left untreated, other parts of the body may get infected. That’s why it’s important that if you notice symptoms of candidiasis, you should see your doctor get an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment.