Candida overgrowth can cause several health problems, including digestive issues, fatigue, and joint pain. Addressing the underlying cause can help ease symptoms caused by candidiasis 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.

In fact, Candida is one of the most common causes of fungal infections in humans (1, 2).

This article explores 6 symptoms of Candida overgrowth, how it’s caused, and how you can treat it.

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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.

Below are a few factors that can lead to Candida overgrowth (3, 4, 5, 6, 7):

When Candida begins to overproduce, it can lead to health problems and cause a range of adverse symptoms.

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 (8).

Individuals with poor oral hygiene or removable dentures are also at an increased risk (9).

People with oral thrush typically develop white, bumpy patches on their tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils, or throat (10).

The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped.

Oral thrush is also often associated with redness or soreness of the tongue and mouth (10).

In severe cases, it can spread to the esophagus and cause pain or difficulty swallowing.

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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.

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.

First, candidiasis is often accompanied by nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, and magnesium (11).

In particular, magnesium deficiency has been known to cause fatigue (12).

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.

One older study from 1995 suggests that prolonged candidiasis of the gut may even be a potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. However, more research is needed (13).

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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.

Candida is found in the vaginal tracts of about 20% of females (14).

An overgrowth of Candida can lead to candidiasis of the vagina, also known as a yeast infection.

It is estimated that 1.4 million people visit a doctor for a vaginal yeast infection each year in the United States (14).

Males can also get genital yeast infections, but it’s much less common (15).

Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse, and a thick, white discharge from the vagina (16).

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 (17).

Symptoms of a UTI include a burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent urge to urinate, cloudy, dark, or strange-smelling urine, and pain or pressure in your lower abdomen (18).

That being said, other bacteria like E. coli are more likely to cause UTIs (18).

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.

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Candida can cause genital and urinary tract infections, both of which can lead to pain and discomfort.

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.

When the bacteria in your gut become imbalanced, you can experience digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, and bloating (19).

Recent studies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is associated with several diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (20, 21).

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Having small amounts of Candida in your gut is normal. However, if it starts to overproduce, it may cause various gut-related 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 (22).

For example, antibacterial cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers can often alter skin conditions (23).

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 (24).

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.

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An overgrowth of Candida on the skin can cause symptoms like itching and a visible rash.

If a Candida infection enters your bloodstream and travels through your body, it can infect the joints and cause arthritis (25).

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.

Candida can also cause bone infections, or osteomyelitis, which can cause pain and tenderness in the infected area (26).

While bone and joint infections are not very common, they can be challenging to treat and often require medications prescribed by a doctor (27).

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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 best way to treat candidiasis and prevent recurring infections is to address the underlying cause.

The food you eat plays an important role in maintaining the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

In particular, foods high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may promote the growth of Candida (28).

While more research is needed, one study found that people who avoided these foods during treatment for Candida had better outcomes after 3 months (28).

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 (29, 30).
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which has been shown to fight Candida infections in multiple test-tube studies (31, 32).
  • Curcumin: Test-tube studies indicate that curcumin may kill Candida yeasts, or at least reduce their growth (33).
  • Xylitol: According to one test-tube study, xylitol may possess powerful antimicrobial properties and could help reduce Candida growth (34).
  • Aloe vera: Test-tube studies suggest that aloe vera gel may inhibit the growth of Candida, which could help protect against infection (35).
  • Pomegranate: One animal study showed that certain compounds found in pomegranate peel extract could be beneficial against Candida yeasts (36).
  • Kombucha: Kombucha tea is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid, both of which have been shown to kill Candida in test-tube studies (37).
  • Probiotics: Probiotics like Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii may reduce Candida growth and protect against infections (38, 39).

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 ofinfection and determine the best course of treatment based on your needs.