Candida overgrowth in Stuart
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Candida overgrowth

 

One of the keys to good health is the proper balance among the multitude of microorganisms that the body hosts. While bacteria are by far the most common, the body also supports a very small population of another microorganism, such as Candida Albicans (popularly known as candida), a type of yeast is generally kept in check by the immune system and by the body’s “good” bacteria.

Normally Candida exists in small quantity along the gastrointestinal tract (the intestines and the mouth), in the vagina, and on the skin. However, problems arise, when Candida grows out of control and excessively populates one or more locations in the body.

Because antibiotics can kill more than one kind of bacteria, occasionally the “good” strains that keep Candida within bounds can be eliminated along with the “bad”. Then a frequent reason why vaginal Candidiasis –the most common form of Candida– overgrows, is taking an extended course of antibiotics. Candida, is unaffected by antibiotics and, in the absence of its natural bacterial counterbalance, proceeds to reproduce wildly. Intense vaginal itching and other discomforts, along with a white discharge, are characteristic signs of a vaginal yeast infection.

Oral Candidiasis also known as oral thrush is form of a Candida overgrowth, in the mouth. It can occur in breast-fed infants whose mothers are taking antibiotics and in people using steroid inhalers for asthma due to steroids encouraging Candida proliferation. Oral thrush also develops in people whose immune systems are severely depleted, for example, those who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy; immunosuppressive therapy after an organ transplant; or people with AIDS.

Vaginal Candidiasis, oral thrush, as well as Candida overgrowths on the skin such as diaper rash, are regular medical conditions, and, when they occur, all physicians concur they should be treated. On the other hand, Candida proliferation within the intestines known variously as Candida overgrowth syndrome (COS), chronic Candidiasis, or just simply “a yeast problem.” is a controversial disorder, accepted by some doctors and rejected by others as a “fad” diagnosis.

 

Even though Candida remains confined to the digestive tract and vagina, the overgrowth has far-reaching effects throughout the body. For that reason, Candida overgrowth is a specific disorder, which can be responsible for months or even years of chronic ill health, thus it should be treated as any medical condition.

It’s important to highlight that COS is completely different from the potentially fatal Candida fungal infection of the bloodstream that spreads the organism rapidly throughout the entire body. This life-threatening situation is usually seen only in people with severely compromised immune systems, and it requires specialized hospital care.

Symptoms of COS develop from several sources. Overgrowth in the intestines can cause excessive gas, bloating, and bowel movement changes; in women, overgrowth in the vagina can bring on recurrent yeast infections. In addition, the body absorbs particles from Candida organisms after they die along with chemical substances produced by the live Candida itself. These substances are referred to as Candida toxins because they produce unpleasant chronic symptoms felt system wide, such as fatigue, muscle aches, and brain “fog”.

While still alive, the proliferating Candida yeast can burrow deeply into the delicate lining of the gastrointestinal tract, damaging it and creating a syndrome called intestinal Hyperpermeability or “leaky gut.” When this occurs, a person can develop new sensitivities and intolerances to once harmless foods, such as dairy, eggs, corn, and wheat (gluten).

 

 
 
 
Key Symptoms
Bloating, gas, Diarrhea, constipation, new sensitivities to commonly eaten foods
Fatigue, headache, depression, irritability, disorientation, dizziness, inability to concentrate
Sugar cravings, sensitivities to chemicals and perfumes, alcohol intolerance, increased susceptibility to the side effects of medications
 
Muscle and joint aches, sinusitis and recurrent colds, recurrent skin rashes
In women: premenstrual syndrome (PMS), decreased libido, recurrent vaginal yeast infection, vulvar itching and pain
In men), prostate and bladder infections

 

 
 
What Causes Candida Overgrowth Syndrome (COS)?
 

According to nutritionally oriented professionals who treat COS, the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics is by far the most frequent cause of the disorder. Because antibiotics so effectively wipe out both the beneficial strains of bacteria and the harmful ones, they dramatically disrupt the body’s delicate balance of microorganisms, Candida then takes over. For example, people who have been on antibiotic drugs for long periods of time to treat acne and recurrent sinus infections, or other syndromes, are at particularly high risk for developing the disorder.

 

Moreover, medications other than antibiotics can also raise the body’s susceptibility to Candida overgrowth. These drugs include birth control pills and oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, which are commonly prescribed to control inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Other factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to COS include stress, a weakened immune system, a high-sugar diet, hormonal changes from pregnancy, and diabetes.

 
 
 
Conventional Treatments
 

Clinical manifestations of Candida Albicans overgrowth in the vagina, mouth, and skin is routinely treated by physicians. Vaginal yeast infections are so common that self-treatment using over-the-counter preparations is encouraged by most doctors. Likewise, Pediatricians and other doctors regularly treat oral thrush and diaper rash.

In contrast, since its original description in the early 1980s, Candida overgrowth syndrome (COS) has merited few articles in conventional medical journals, and it is not mentioned in medical textbooks. Not a lot of studies have been conducted, and many conventional doctors are doubtful about the existence of the condition at all.

Certainly, COS’s subtle set of signs and symptoms can make this problem hard to identify unless the patient and/or physician suspect its presence and believe that Candida is a real, diagnosable condition. Confusing issues further is the fact that COS often closely resembles other hard-to-diagnose disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about Candida overgrowth syndrome. Most of the popular books on COS mistakenly imply that the Candida proliferation can be widespread, occurring within virtually every organ.

 

This is simply not the case. Although chemicals produced by the Candida are dispersed by the bloodstream, in COS the Candida organism itself is not.

The diagnosis of COS is probably being overlooked by doctors every day. Because most conventional doctors are sceptical that COS exists at all, it is possible that many chronically ill but undiagnosed individuals actually have this easily treatable condition. Antibiotics are often prescribed and taken for the wrong conditions such as for cold and flu viruses, or for inappropriately long periods. This sets the stage for Candida proliferation.

However, the risk of making a self-diagnosis reflects in many people who believe they are suffering from Candida overgrowth, in fact, may not have it at all. Such individuals frequently spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, which in the end are useless because they never had COS in the first place. Others may confine themselves to extremely restrictive diets, or worry unnecessarily about a condition they do not have.

 
 
 
Tests and Procedures
 

Commonly, Candida overgrowth syndrome diagnosis does not place absolute reliance on any test; instead it’s preferred to evaluate the whole patient. If the clinical suspicion of Candida based on a history of antibiotic overuse plus recurrent vaginal yeast infections (in women) and symptoms suggestive of COS is great enough. Immediate treatment will be applied.

The tests that may be ordered include cultures of both vaginal secretions and stool, along with a blood test to measure antibodies and antibody complexes to the Candida

 

. If Candida is present the immune system creates three separate antibodies; IgM, IgG, IgA.

With the blood test levels of those antibodies are measured, as well as levels of Candida antigen, created when a particle of a Candida breakdown product enters the bloodstream and triggers an antibody response. Repeating these tests at the end of treatment is a good way to determine if it has been successful. If it has, levels of a number of these measurements will show a decline.

 
 
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