Do You Have a White Coating on Your Tongue?
9 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth
The bacteria responsible for causing one of the most common infections can have other side effects that often go undiagnosed and untreated.
Read on to learn some of the less talked about signs of Candida overgrowth, what triggers these bacteria to take over, and what to watch for.
What’s the Difference Between Candida and Yeast Infections?
Candida are the bacteria most commonly known for causing vaginal yeast infections. Candida are opportunistic bacteria that naturally exist in and on our gut, skin, and within the vagina. They’re part of the flora that make up a healthy microbiome. Given the right circumstances though, Candida can overgrow, crowding out other beneficial bacteria, and cause unpleasant symptoms.
An overgrowth of candida in the vagina is the root cause of the unpleasant itching, burning, and discharge as a result of a yeast infection. When Candida bacteria overgrow on the skin, vagina, or within the gut, we get a yeast infection.
Candida is not considered an STD, although it is possible to transmit a yeast infection to your partner.
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth usually occurs in response to a change in internal pH, whether in the vagina or digestive system. A few things that raise risk for Candida are:
- Blood sugar imbalance
- High sugar diets
- Hormonal changes
Individually, these things are unlikely to cause candida overgrowth on their own, but because we often experience two or more of these things at the same time, we often increase our risk without being aware.
Here are 9 signs you might be dealing with Candida overgrowth–some are common, but others are less so, and identifying them may help you get to the root of your problems.
9 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth
1. White Patches on Your Tongue
Commonly known as “thrush” oral yeast infections are most common in babies and the elderly, but they can develop in people of all ages.
You’ll notice a white, pasty coating on your tongue, cheeks, throat, or the roof of your mouth. This white buildup is caused by a change in your oral microbiome, allowing one type of bacteria–usually Candida albicans–to take over.
This can be due to antibiotic use, or even hormonal changes that occur with PCOS or pregnancy.
As if battling sugar cravings wasn’t hard enough already, you may have an overgrowth of bacteria in your gut that’s actually driving your carb cravings.
High sugar and carbohydrate diets can lead to a vicious cycle with yeast overgrowth–Candida need sugars to proliferate, and the proliferation of Candida causes you to crave sugar.
So if you’re finding it impossible to kick the sugar cravings, it might not be your will power that’s to blame.
3. Brain Fog + Difficulty Concentrating
Candida overgrowth in your intestines can make you feel tired, cranky, and make it difficult to concentrate.
Because of their impact on the immune system and microbiome, Candida may disrupt the gut+brain connection, leading to fatigue and mood changes (1).
4. Frequent Yeast Infections
Candida albicans is the most common type of bacteria responsible for yeast infections, which are also common in women. Yeast infections can occur after taking an antibiotic, having sex, or experiencing hormonal changes.
Yeast infections most often occur as a result of a change in pH, allowing bad bacteria to overgrow. You’ll usually notice a thick, white discharge from your vagina, and you may experience pain, redness, or swelling down below.
Yeast infections are quite common, and most women experience them during their lifetime. However, if your yeast infections just won’t go away, or if they keep happening, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
5. Recurrent Skin Problems
Yeast (Candida) is everywhere–including on your skin! Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal when it’s kept in check by other types of bacteria.
Sometimes though, Candida can make their way beneath the skin and cause an infection that might look like a scaly patch of dry skin. Candida like warm, moist places so we most often see an infection in places like beneath the bust, arms, or groin.
6. Gut Issues
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can leave your digestive system vulnerable to Candida overgrowth. If you have too much Candida in the gut you’ll likely experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, or cramping.
Gut problems as a result of imbalance bacteria can also lead to SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which plays a role in chronic conditions like Crohn’s, IBD, and IBS (2).
7. Joint Pain
While Candida is naturally present in the gut, skin, and vaginal tract, invasive Candida can also travel through the bloodstream and settle in joints, causing pain and inflammation.
Most commonly noticed in the knees and hips, this type of Candida infection requires a doctor’s attention as soon as you suspect it (3).
8. Depression and Anxiety
The connection between your gut and brain is real, and can be altered by a change in your microbiome. A change in your microbiome, coupled with any imbalance in immune function, could easily disturb the cognitive processes that are essential for stabilizing mood and feelings of wellbeing.
9. Thyroid Problems
Candida is nothing if not an incredibly opportunistic bacteria, which means that given the right conditions, it grows quickly and spreads far.
Even though Candida is a natural part of our internal ecosystems, the problem arises when there’s an imbalance between Candida and other organisms. While conventional medicine often only sees Candida as a vaginal or oral problem, a holistic doctor will address the more hidden side effects of candida, such as digestive function.
If left unchecked, Candida has the potential to irritate the walls of the intestinal lining, promoting intestinal hyperpermeability, or leaky gut, allowing toxins or undigested proteins to pass through into the bloodstream. This can cause an inflammatory immune reaction, and autoimmune flares or development (3).
Autoimmune hypothyroid is the most common form of thyroid issue, and a leaky or hyperpermeable gut is one trigger for autoimmune thyroid conditions.
Treating Candida overgrowth
Doctors will usually prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic to treat Candida overgrowth, but there are alternative treatments and lifestyle factors to consider as well.
A holistic doctor can help you evaluate diet, hygiene habits, and hormonal imbalances that are the root cause of Candida overgrowth. For more, take a look at how to cure Candida naturally.
Alternative treatments for Candida include:
- Low sugar diet.
- Natural antifungals such as tea tree oil or coconut oil (4).
- Beneficial bacteria to destroy Candida’s protective biofilm such as S. boulardi and Lactobacillus.
Holistic Therapies for Candidiasis
Candida overgrowth is quickly becoming a rampant but underdiagnosed problem for adults as well as children and teens. It’s important to be mindful of sugar intake, hormonal factors, and hygiene that can create the perfect storm for Candida to overtake the body’s healthy microbiome.
If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, it’s important you follow a protocol to regain a healthy microbial balance, and contact a holistic health professional if you suspect that Candida is recurrent or persistent.