Candida infection is quite common among women; approximately three quarters of all women will suffer from an infestation of Candida during their lifetime. Candida is quite ubiquitous and the species of Candida, Candida albicans lives in 80% of the humans while causing no adverse effects to the host’s health. Candida exist on normal adult skin and Candida is also a normal part of the microorganisms found in the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, and vagina. Typically, the Candida that normally inhabit these mucous membranes do not cause any negative health maladies. It is only when Candida multiply without restraint that Candidiasis, such as oral Candidiasis (thrush) and vaginal Candida infections, occurs.
Opportunities for Candida to Attack
Candida can also be an opportunistic pathogen, an organism that only invades its host when there is a good opportunity presented to it. A major opportunity for Candida infection could be any of the following situations:
- Using antibiotics.
- Undergoing radiation treatment
- Undergoing chemotherapy
- Having Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Using steroids of various types
- Having high levels of estrogen in your body
- Having elevated blood sugar levels
Using antibiotics is one way that Candida can gain a foothold in your body and overgrow until it has infested a section of your body. The primary way antibiotics help to give Candida a way to overgrow in your body is by killing off the natural bacterial life that normally exists in the same environment as Candida. The bacteria that normally live in your body help to reduce the amount of available resources that can be used by Candida for food by consuming the nutrients themselves. Without the presence of friendly bacterial life in the body, there are too many nutrients available for Candida to utilize to further its own development.
Bacteria like L. acidophilus, a normal probiotic bacteria that is present in the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vagina of health individuals, does double duty when it comes to fighting Candida. In addition to metabolizing sugars, L. acidophilus also produces lactic acid. Candida cannot tolerate highly acidic environments well, and extra lactic acid helps to acidify areas in the body, like the vagina, so that Candida cannot infiltrate and dominate those areas.
Weakened Immune System
If your immune system is not capable of fighting off invading Candida fungi, then your chances of developing an infection of Candida are greater. Undergoing corticosteroid therapy and having HIV are two ways the body’s immune system can become compromised. If you have are suffering from cancer the disease can impair your immune system. Additionally, the treatments for eliminating cancer, such as radiation treatments and chemotherapy, can also weaken your immune system. If you are taking radiation treatments or are undergoing chemotherapy your immune system is weakened due to these medical procedures. Consequently, do not be surprised if you suffer from a form of Candidiasis while you are battling cancer.
Symptoms Associated with Candida Infestation
There are a wide assortment of symptoms that can be caused by an infection of the fungus Candida. These symptoms can be analyzed and utilized to help you properly diagnose an infection of Candida.
Some Symptoms of Candida Infection Include the following symptoms:
- Itching and general irritation in the vagina and at the opening of the vagina.
- Feeling burning sensations while you are urinating or while you are having intercourse.
- Having a vaginal discharge with a white color and a consistency that is similar to cottage cheese.
- Having your entire body feel sick.
- Feeling excessively inundated with tiredness and fatigue.
- Having headaches.
- Having abdominal pain.
- Having bouts of constipation or diarrhea.
- Having cramps and experiencing other menstrual irregularities.
- Suffering from insomnia.
- Having feelings of vertigo where you are dizzy or loose your balance.
- Suffering from bouts of indigestion or heartburn.
- Having your foot, hair, or body odor not go away even after your thoroughly wash these areas of your body.
- If you have oral thrush (a Candida infection of the mouth) you could see white, creamy lesions on the inside of your mouth or on your tongue.
Other Vaginal Infections
There are other vaginal infections that can be mistaken for a vaginal Candida infection. These vaginal health maladies are trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis. Both trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis can cause vaginal discharge and cause the vaginal area to be itchy. If you are not sure which type of vaginal infection you are suffering from, it may be a prudent decision to consult a licensed physician before you attempt to treat yourself.
- William G. Crook, The Yeast Connection and the Woman (p.99 — acidic vagina not tolerated by candida)