At least a couple times a week a new patient will ask me about Candida. Usually, they say something like, "a friend of mine who had similar symptoms told me they had Candida, how do you treat Candida?" I always answer this question by saying, "first we need to determine if your symptoms are from Candida or something else." One of the most important jobs of a physician is to make an accurate diagnosis. In this article, we will discuss the diagnosis of Candida.
What is Candida?
Candida, specifically Candida albicans is a yeast species naturally living in various areas of the human body. It is one of the hundreds to thousands of species of microorganisms living symbiotically inside all of us. Therefore, Candida is not inherently problematic or symptomatic. The medical issue with Candida occurs when it grows too rapidly and overgrows its natural territory.
The most commonly known and visible form of Candida overgrowth is thrush. This is the overgrowth of Candida on the tongue and oral cavity. It typically occurs in infants, children, and immuno-compromised adults. Candida overgrowth can also occur in the digestive tract, genitourinary system, and mucus membranes.
Symptoms of Candida
One of the reasons Candida overgrowth is often overlooked as a diagnosis is because it tends to cause a myriad of different symptoms that are very difficult to pinpoint to Candida. These symptoms include gas, bloating, indigestion, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, malaise, systemic body pain, skin rashes, and headaches. All of these symptoms can be caused by many other factors and a full medical evaluation should be done to determine if Candida or something else is the cause of these symptoms.
Diagnosis of Candida
There are a few different ways to identify an overgrowth of Candida. The most common way is based on clinical signs and symptoms. If examination of the tongue and oral cavity show yeast overgrowth and there are several of the above symptoms, Candida overgrowth is typically diagnosed. However, there appears to be many cases of Candida overgrowth that donft involve the oral cavity. To pick up these cases there are two other common diagnostic tests.
Blood tests for the production of immune markers like IgG against Candida can identify if the immune system is mounting an attack against Candida. If there is an overgrowth of Candida there is likely to be an enhanced immune response, which can be picked up by these types of tests.
Stool tests can also be used to identify Candida overgrowth, especially overgrowth in the digestive system. Some Candida cells are eliminated naturally in the stool with each bowel movement. However, when there is an overgrowth of Candida there is often an elevated amount in a stool sample.
Whatever diagnostic method your physician uses to identify Candida it is important that they are actually considering it as a potential cause of your symptoms. As I mentioned earlier, there are many potential causes of the symptoms most associated with Candida. Therefore, ensure you receive a thorough evaluation and receive an accurate diagnosis, whatever that diagnosis is.
Treatment of Candida
The treatment of Candida typically involves four aspects: nutrition, supplementation with probiotic bacteria, anti-candida botanicals, and immune supportive supplementation. In next month's article we will discuss the nutritional treatments for Candida overgrowth.
For more information on Candida or to schedule a consultation contact Dr. Barlow's office at 250-448-5610 or visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com