Chronic conditions and syndromes like Candida Related Complex tend to be difficult to diagnose. Many medical professionals are not yet aware of the effects that gut imbalances can have on your health. Regrettably, this means that many patients are turned away, misdiagnosed, or do not get the help that they need.
One of the biggest problems is that many of the symptoms of a Candida overgrowth are quite general, and can each be attributed to one or more other illnesses. For example, what happens if you tell your doctor that you are suffering from headaches, low energy, oral thrush, and constipation? Would he connect the dots and order a stool test to check for gut dysbiosis? Unless your doctor is particularly thorough, he is more likely to send you home with some prescription meds and instructions to get some rest.
The good news is that more and more medical professionals are open to diagnosing Candida Related Complex, and are starting to order tests like stool analyses that can diagnose gut disorders. If you can’t find a qualified doctor who is willing to look at these tests, try to find a local integrative doctor or naturopath who will do the tests for you instead.
Here are some tests for Candida that you can do at home, or order online.
Candida diagnosis is no easy task. Your best bet is to go with how you feel, and get the right diagnostic tests. You can speak to a qualified medical professional who can order the tests for you. If you prefer, you can even order the tests yourself.
If you suspect that you have a Candida overgrowth, these are some of the lab tests that you or your doctor should consider. Dr. Wood and I discuss these tests and others in much greater detail in our Candida treatment plan.
Comprehensive Stool Analysis
A stool analysis starts with sample collection. You will do this yourself, usually over the course of two or three days to ensure that you get a representative ‘average’ sample. Then you will place your samples in the bag provided by the testing company, and send them off to the lab for analysis.
At the lab, your stool will be analyzed for levels of yeast, pathogenic bacteria, friendly bacteria, and much more. The technicians will be looking for evidence of Candida albicans and several other pathogenic microorganisms. They will also be checking the pH, looking for inflammation markers, and conducting a thorough evaluation of your gut health and digestive processes.
This is the most useful test for you to get if you suspect that you are suffering from a Candida overgrowth. It can give a reliable answer as to whether the Candida albicans levels in your gut are abnormal. It will also tell you if you are deficient in any of the ‘good bacteria’ that are usually found in the gut, like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Armed with this information, you can make adjustments to your diet and supplement regimen to correct those imbalances.
Even if you find that you’re not suffering from Candida overgrowth, this test can give you some incredibly useful information about what else is going on. For example, you might find that a different pathogen is causing your health problems, or even that you picked up a parasite on some recent foreign travels.
There are three different types of stool analysis listed here. You can ask your health provider for assistance, or order them directly yourself.
Candida Antibodies Test
Broadly speaking, your immune system produces three different types of antibodies in response to a Candida infestation. These are the IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies. The levels of each these antibodies can signify that a Candida overgrowth is currently present, or has been present in the recent past. Testing is relatively easy and simply involves collecting some blood.
This is the test most likely to be ordered by medical professionals. It is faster and easier to collect, but it tends to be less reliable than a stool analysis. Sometimes doctors will order both the stool test and an antibodies test, in order to get a fuller picture of what is going on in both your immune system and your digestive system.
There is a Candida antibodies test from Immunolabs listed here, and you can either order it yourself or get your doctor’s help.
Organic Acid Test
Another area where a Candida overgrowth leaves evidence is your urine. There are certain organic waste products created by Candida albicans that are not naturally found in your body. By looking for these waste products in your urine, it is possible to evaluate whether there is an imbalance in the gut and to guess at which pathogenic organisms might be causing it.
There is a good organic acid test listed here. You can order it yourself or get your doctor’s assistance.
Candida questionnaires are another useful way to evaluate symptoms and assess the likelihood of a Candida infestation. Typically, they include questions that address the symptoms you are currently experiencing, as well as a review of the risk factors that may have led to your health problems.
On this site we have included the simple questionnaire that was originally created by Dr William Crook, the author of The Yeast Connection back in 1984. You can check out the questionnaire for yourself here.
In our book, Dr Eric and I have included two more questionnaires directed at Candida sufferers. The first one is a questionnaire that has been used in research studies to assess the effectiveness of antifungal drugs. And the second is our own questionnaire, that assesses lifestyle- and diet-related risk factors for Candida Related Complex.
By using a combination of these questionnaires, you can start to get a feel for how Candida overgrowth is affecting your health, and what might have caused it in the first place. You can also print them out and take them to your doctor – they might help you convince him or her to order some appropriate tests for you.
Here’s a simple test that some people claim will diagnose your Candida overgrowth. As we’ll discuss below, the science behind this is a little suspect. Feel free to try the test, but take the results with a pinch of salt!
1. When you get up in the morning, and before you brush your teeth, eat or drink anything, fill a glass with bottled water at room temperature.
2. Spit some saliva gently into the glass.
3. Come back every 20 minutes for the next hour and check for some of these ‘tell-tale signs’ of Candida:
– ‘Strings’ coming down through the water from the saliva at the top
– Cloudy saliva sitting at the bottom of the glass
– Opaque specks of saliva suspended in the water
So why do we think this test is unreliable? Ultimately, it tells you how thick your mucus is and very little else. And the thickness of your mucus is determined by many factors which have very little to do with Candida or any other health problem.
What might lead to a false positive? If you have allergies or have recently eaten some dairy products, you will likely test ‘positive’ on the spittle test. Dehydration can also lead to a positive reading, which in practice means that you are far more likely to test ‘positive’ after you wake in the morning. Clearly, the thickness of your mucus is no reliable indicator for gut-related health issues like Candida.
For lots more information on how to diagnose a Candida overgrowth, including which tests to order and how to interpret them, take a look at our Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program.