Symptoms of Candida overgrowth include mouth lesions, fatigue, and digestive issues. Addressing the underlying cause can help ease symptoms and prevent recurring infections.
Many types of fungi live in and on the human body, including the genus of yeasts known as Candida.
Candida is typically found in small amounts in the mouth and intestines and on the skin.
At normal levels, the fungus is not problematic. However, when Candida begins to grow uncontrollably, it can cause an infection known as candidiasis.
This article explores 6 symptoms of Candida overgrowth, how it’s caused, and how you can treat it.
What is the main cause of Candida?
Typically, the healthy bacteria in your body keep Candida levels under control. However, if healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised, Candida can begin to overproduce.
- taking antibiotics
- eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs
- high alcohol intake
- a weakened immune system
- taking oral contraceptives
- high stress levels
When Candida begins to overproduce, it can lead to health problems.
Candida can cause a range of signs and symptoms, depending on which part of the body it affects.
Mouth symptoms with oral thrush
Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called “thrush.”
It’s most common in newborns, older adults, and people with a weakened immune system (
The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped.
When there is too much Candida in the mouth, it can cause white, bumpy lesions, redness, and pain in the mouth and throat. This is also known as oral thrush.
2. Tiredness and fatigue
One of the most common symptoms associated with Candida is fatigue.
While there’s no evidence that Candida causes fatigue, there are a couple of ways in which it could contribute to it.
Second, Candida infections commonly occur when the immune system is weakened.
A low-functioning immune system in itself may leave you feeling tired and fatigued.
Candidiasis is most common in individuals with a weakened immune system and may be accompanied by various nutritional deficiencies. This can leave you feeling tired and fatigued.
3. Recurring genital or urinary tract infections
Candida is found in the vaginal tracts of about 20% of females (
An overgrowth of Candida can lead to candidiasis of the vagina, also known as a yeast infection.
Although not common, Candida can also cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Candida-related urinary tract infections are most common in older adults and hospitalized or immune-compromised individuals (
That being said, other bacteria like E. coli are more likely to cause UTIs (
However, if you experience recurring infections and believe they are a result of Candida overgrowth, you can talk to a doctor about having your urine tested to find out.
Candida can cause genital and urinary tract infections, both of which can lead to pain and discomfort.
4. Digestive issues
The health of your digestive system relies heavily on a good balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria that live in your gut.
The “good” bacteria that normally reside in your gut are important for digestion, as they help process starches, fibers, and some sugars.
Having small amounts of Candida in your gut is normal. However, if it starts to overproduce, it may cause various gut-related symptoms.
5. Skin and nail symptoms
Just like in your gut, there are bacteria on your skin that prevent Candida from growing uncontrollably.
All bacteria thrive in different conditions, including varying temperature, moisture, or acidity levels.
For this reason, a change in the environment on your skin can allow Candida to overproduce (
For example, antibacterial cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers can often alter skin conditions (
While skin candidiasis can affect any part of the body, areas that are warm and moist, such as the armpits and groin, are particularly prone to infection (
Itching and a visible rash are the two most common symptoms of skin fungal infections.
While not life-threatening, skin fungal infections can cause several unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms.
An overgrowth of Candida on the skin can cause symptoms like itching and a visible rash.
6. Joint pain
This typically only happens after surgery or when an overgrowth of Candida is left untreated for an extended period of time.
Candida arthritis is associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints and often affects the hips and knees.
If an overgrowth of Candida is left untreated, it can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your entire body. When this happens, Candida can infect bones and joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.
The food you eat plays an important role in maintaining the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
While more research is needed, one study found that people who avoided these foods during treatment for Candida had better outcomes after 3 months (
Additionally, certain foods may help protect against Candida infections, including:
- Garlic: Garlic contains several antifungal compounds like allicin, some of which have been shown to act against Candida yeasts in test-tube studies (
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which has been shown to fight Candida infections in multiple test-tube studies (
- Curcumin: Test-tube studies indicate that curcumin may kill Candida yeasts, or at least reduce their growth (
- Xylitol: According to one test-tube study, xylitol may possess powerful antimicrobial properties and could help reduce Candida growth (
- Aloe vera: Test-tube studies suggest that aloe vera gel may inhibit the growth of Candida, which could help protect against infection (
- Pomegranate: One animal study showed that certain compounds found in pomegranate peel extract could be beneficial against Candida yeasts (
- Kombucha: Kombucha tea is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid, both of which have been shown to kill Candida in test-tube studies (
- Probiotics: Probiotics like Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii may reduce Candida growth and protect against infections (
The best way to treat candidiasis and prevent recurring infections is to address the underlying cause.
A doctor may prescribe an antifungal drug, such as:
- amphotericin B
The type of drug and the dosage will depend on the severity and location of the infection. In some cases, a single dose will clear the infection. In others, a person may need ongoing treatment for up to 6 months (
Learn more here
Find out more about different types of Candida infections:
How do you clear up Candida?
A doctor can prescribe antifungal medications such as nyastatin or clotrimazole. These are available as pills or creams, depending on which part of the body Candida affects and how severe the infection is (
What kills Candida quickly?
The time it takes to clear Candida will also depend on the severity of the infection and how soon a person gets treatment. Some cases only need a single treatment, For recurring vaginal infections, however, you may need treatment for up to 6 months (
Can diet improve Candida?
No foods can cure Candida, but items that are high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may make it worse. Foods that may help protect you from an infection include garlic, curcumin, kombucha, and probiotics.
Several factors can contribute to Candida overgrowth, including certain medications, underlying health conditions, and lifestyle factors.
Modifying your diet may be beneficial for candidiasis and could help ease symptoms related to infection, including fatigue, joint pain, and digestive issues.
A doctor can also help identify the cause of infection and determine the best course of treatment based on your needs.