This post is in response to a very reasonable question: what is Candida?
Candida albicans is a kind of yeast, and we’re all born with it in our bodies. Ususally, our intestinal and vaginal flora keep it in check, but under excessive stress, auto-immune disorders, high sugar consumption, or antibiotics, Candida gets out of control. Antibiotics may be the most insidious cause of Candidiasis, because, while antibiotics kill off the bad micro-organisms to make you “better,” they also kill all of the good micro-organisms, thereby making you sicker. Suddenly, with your intestinal flora depleted, you are open to an overgrowth of Candida albicans, which wreaks havoc on your body on its own and makes your body more vulnerable to other kinds of infections.
For this reason, if you treat a urinary tract infection (UTI) with antibiotics, a vaginal yeast infection (YI) often follows, sometimes leading to a vaginal bacterial infection (BV). Then, if you treat the BV with an antibiotic, you get another YI. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that I’ve experienced first-hand since my wedding 10 months ago. It’s terrible.
After one too many rounds of antifungals and antibiotics, I switched doctors. I wanted to address the root issue, which ended up being a compromised immune system and systemic yeast overgrowth (and it’s not clear which happened first!). It turns out that I’ve had this problem building a lot longer than I realized–probably since infancy. My mom recently told me that the pediatrician put me on antibiotics for 10 weeks to “cure” a peristent ear infection. Sadly, the treatment probably didn’t even help; the vast majority of ear infections are viral.
So what exactly does Candida do? The following are common symptoms of Candidiasis (from Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch): “constipation, diarrhea, colitis, abdominal pain, headaches, bad breath, rectal itching, impotence, memory loss, mood swings, prostatitis, canker sores, persistent heartburn, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, congestion, nagging cough, numbness in the face or extremities, tingling sensations, acne, night sweats, severe itching, clogged sinuses, PMS, burning tongue, white spots on the tongue and in the mouth, extreme fatigue, vaginitis, kidney and bladder infections, arthritis, depression, hyperactivity, hypothyroidism, adrenal problems,” gas, bloating, and hypoglycemia. It also worsens existing allergies and can even cause your body to develop new ones (which are temporary, assuming you can get control of the yeast).
Bottom line: Candida albicans prevents your body from working the way it’s designed to, whether it be digestion and absorption of food, elimination of wastes, or hormone regulation.
Because Candidiasis has so many different kinds of symptoms that seem totally unrelated, doctors often misdiagnose the disorder. Fortunately, once it has been accurately identified, it is manageable, though it is a long, arduous, often unpleasant process.