Candida overgrowth, as the name suggests, refers to a condition that occurs when Candida, a yeast-like fungus multiplies in an uncontrollable manner in the body, and gives rise to various unpleasant symptoms. The article discusses these symptoms.
Candida overgrowth is also known as candidiasis, and it is caused by a group of microscopic fungi or yeast known as Candida Albicans. This yeast normally lives on different surfaces of the body such as mouth, intestinal tract, and vagina. A healthy immune system keeps the growth of candida under control, by checking the balance between them and other microorganisms such as bacteria that occupy in the same locations. However, certain conditions can upset the balance, and this may cause the yeast cells to multiply rapidly, and aggressively thus, becoming so numerous that they eventually trigger infections. Candida overgrowth symptoms are numerous and could not be interpreted easily.
What May Indicate Candidiasis?
Commonly, candidiasis occurs in genital areas of men and women, and in the lining of the mouth (known as oral thrush). So based on these areas, the symptoms of the infections have been presented accordingly.
Indicants of Male Yeast Infection
Important symptoms that might indicate the development of the infection in male genitals are as follows:
- Often, the first symptom that occurs is irritation, and itching of the genitals
- The head of the penis and/or the foreskin may develop red rashes, followed by inflammation
- The rash may develop into sores that may burn severely
Indicants of Female Yeast Infection
Candidiasis is more common in women than in men. Symptoms that may occur include:
- The infection usually begins with itching, and irritation that could be felt at the vaginal site
- As the infection progresses, the vulva may swell, and redden
- An important symptom could be a discharge of a fluid which looks like cottage cheese, is thick and white. The discharge does not have any kind of odor though
- It is also common to experience a burning sensation during sexual intercourse or urination
Indicants of Oral Thrush
Although oral thrush may affect anyone, babies and people with dentures are more vulnerable to contract the same. Important symptoms include:
- Here the infection attacks almost the entire mouth. The tongue develops lesions with a creamy white texture. These may also be seen in the inner cheeks, the palate, gums and even tonsils
- The lesions may appear as thick milky patches, which cannot be rubbed off
- The corners of the mouth develop cracks, and redden as the infection keeps growing
- Slight friction can cause the lesions to bleed making the tongue look red
- Apart from pain, the affected person may also lose his/her sense of taste
As oral thrush commonly occurs in infants, it could also affect nursing mothers if their child is sick. In this case the symptoms could show up as:
- Nipples may become itchy, red or sensitive
- Mothers may experience pain during feeding
- The skin of the areola may begin to flake
Candidiasis is more severe in people with compromised immune system. The infection can worsen to an extent where it can damage the internal organs, causing them to function abnormally. For instance, in patients with AIDS, the yeast infection affects the gastrointestinal (GI) systems, wherein, the mouth, stomach and esophagus are infected. Ulcers may develop in the GI systems thus, making it difficult to eat and drink. With time, the infection may spread to the intestines, which disrupts the absorption of food. In some patients, the infection could also spread to the blood, and in some, to the brain causing abnormal mental functions.
Note that exhibiting the above symptoms is not necessarily a sign of candida yeast overgrowth. However, the possibilities are high. The symptoms are difficult to interpret as they mimic those of other medical conditions. According to a report, 95% of patients who died due to cancer were later diagnosed with Candidiasis.
Candidiasis Prevention Tips
# The first and foremost requirement is to curb the intake of sugar or sweet products. The higher the consumption of sugar, the higher the chances of candida overgrowth.
# Follow proper oral hygiene. Maintain a habit of brushing your teeth after meals, and use antibacterial mouthwash.
# There is a high risk of Candidiasis among alcoholics. This is because alcohol is converted into sugar in the body, and this favors the growth of yeast.
# Including garlic in the diet also helps in preventing the growth of candida. This spice is a natural antifungal product.
# As mentioned earlier, yeast grows in the absence of the friendly bacteria. So a diet rich in yogurt or milk is also an effective way to prevent candida overgrowth because they contain lactic bacteria. These bacteria help in keeping a check on the growth of yeast in the body.
# Candidiasis is also triggered by heat and moisture. So keep your skin clean, and dry. Take care to change any sweaty clothes, and dry yourself well after taking a shower. It is advisable to wear loosefitting cotton undergarments.
Most cases of candidiasis can be treated at home with the help of over-the-counter medications, or prescribed ones. However, if the symptoms persist or the patient has a chronic medical condition, then consulting a professional is better than self-treatment.