Candida overgrowth is one of the most widespread health issues today, but few people understand much about it. Worst of all, many doctors and other health professionals don’t understand it very well either.
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that lives naturally in the body, usually without causing any harm. However, when the immune system is compromised or certain species of bacteria in the gut are lost, Candida can progress into an infection.
There are multiple different types of Candida infection. For many people, it originates in the gut. Others find themselves suffering from oral thrush or superficial infections elsewhere on the body.
Candida overgrowth has been linked to many chronic illnesses, especially those to do with poor digestion. Some of the symptoms of Candida overgrowth include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Inability to concentrate or brain fog
- Poor digestion
- Recurring yeast infections
- Oral thrush
- Respiratory infections, sinus infections
- Food allergies/intolerances
- Fungal infections on the skin and nails
- Weak or compromised immune system
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Low mood or depression
One of the most obvious signs of Candida overgrowth is gut dysbiosis. This, too, is not well understood, although it affects a high proportion of adults and children. If you suffer from several of the symptoms mentioned above, it is very possible that you are also suffering from a Candida overgrowth in your gut.
Unfortunately, not all doctors are able to recognize gut-related conditions such as Candida.
If you go to a doctor complaining of fatigue, you may end up with a diagnosis of depression. Chronic sinus infections are often treated with antibiotics. Yeast infections are treated with steroid creams or prescription antifungal medications.
Although these pharmaceutical treatments may be effective for the short-term, they rarely get to the root of the problem. In fact, if the strain of fungi or yeast causing your infection becomes resistant to the medication, it may actually get worse.
Why Does Candida Misdiagnosis Occur?
As with many cases of misdiagnosis, it usually comes down to time. Doctors often have only about 15 minutes to spare for each patient, especially in busy public clinics. This can mean they focus only on the most obvious symptoms – that is, the ones that seem to stand out more than others. This is often the case with conditions such as IBS, arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and other chronic illnesses. All of these may in fact be caused by Candida overgrowth.
When this happens, a doctor will usually send you home with a prescription for antibiotics, pain relief or corticosteroids to ease any inflammation. These will provide relief – but only temporarily.
Another difficulty in diagnosing Candida overgrowth is that it is difficult to test for. Even if your doctor assesses your Candida levels with a blood test or stool test, it’s almost impossible to know ‘tolerant’ your body is the Candida yeast and its byproducts.
Some people can tolerate Candida populations better than others: someone with a strong constitution may be able to host large populations of Candida yeast and only suffer minor symptoms. Someone with a weak constitution or poor immune system, however, may suffer terrible symptoms from only a mild Candida overgrowth.
How to Avoid Candida Misdiagnosis
If you’ve been researching your symptoms and you believe that you have Candida overgrowth, be sure to share your suspicions with your doctor. It may help them to understand how you’re feeling and give them the groundwork for making a better diagnosis.
Explain all your symptoms and why you think it could be Candida-related. Also explain where you got your information. Most importantly, tell your doctor how your symptoms are making you feel and your general level of discomfort.
Remember, it’s still possible that your symptoms can be caused by something else, so allow your doctor to check this, too!
Dealing With A Candida Diagnosis
If you’ve been to your doctor and received a diagnosis for something other than Candida overgrowth – but you think it’s definitely Candida you’re suffering from – you may need to seek a second opinion.
it’s a good idea to consider seeing a natural health practitioner. A naturopath, for example, is a health professional who will try to treat your condition holistically: that is, by examining the cause rather than treating just the symptom.
A naturopathic consultation will take much longer than a doctor’s visit, and will cost more, but it will mean that you get a comprehensive investigation into your health. Your diet, lifestyle, health history and other relevant factors will be discussed, as well as whatever symptoms or concerns you have.
Instead of a ‘quick fix’ treatment, you will be given a full treatment plan that aims to heal your entire body. In the case of an intestinal Candida overgrowth, this could involve changes to your diet, supplementing with natural antifungal medicine and probiotics, engaging in certain therapies and most importantly, regular checkups on your progress.
If visiting a naturopath is not an option for you, you can still try to heal yourself. Candida overgrowth is not going to go away on its own: you need to be active in treating the cause of your symptoms. In many cases, this will begin with a Candida diet.
Try to cut back on the amount of sugar you eat each day, as this is the number one ‘food’ for Candida. There are very few benefits to your health from eating added sugars.
Candida Misdiagnosis: A Tricky Situation
While we tend to rely on doctors for their professional advice, they don’t always get it right. At the same time, the internet doesn’t always get it right, either! It really comes down to knowing what symptoms to look for, and examining the factors that could be contributing to your ill health.
There is plenty of information available for treating yeast overgrowth or gut dysbiosis.
Diet is one of the biggest factors. Your first steps should be in restoring your gut health with a wholesome diet containing anti-inflammatory, low-sugar, high fiber foods.
Don’t forget to take the right supplements too. Natural antifungal herbs and probiotics can be just as effective as any antifungal medication a doctor gives to you, with far fewer side effects.
For lots more information on diagnosing a Candida overgrowth, as well as lots of delicious recipes to use on your Candida diet, check out our Ultimate Candida Diet program.