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A Doctor Answers Question on Candida Symptoms and Treatments

DrSugar Answers: Is Candida the Culprit?

DrSugar is in the house, and she's answering your health-related questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I have been experiencing severe stomach pains for about four months, as well as other lesser symptoms like fatigue and skin breakouts. So far, my doctor is leaning toward the all-encompassing diagnosis of IBS, which obviously can only be "managed" (so far unsuccessfully) with lifestyle changes. I have tried eliminating gluten and dairy, which helped at first, but the pain has flared up again. Somebody at work suggested my problem might be candida. Is candida a "real" medical problem? And if so, are there diagnostic tests or medicinal treatments available? Any information about the causes, symptoms, and remedies for candida would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Tender Tummy

To see DrSugar's response continue reading.
This question is easy to relate to because at some point in all of our lives, we will or have already experienced bouts of gastrointestinal problems, whether it is abdominal pains, diarrhea, or constipation. When these symptoms are chronic or do not subside quickly, it is important that you seek evaluation and treatment with a medical professional. I’m going to report that because I cannot do an in-person history and examination on you, I cannot suggest diagnoses or medical treatment specifically for you. I will discuss information on candida (or candidiasis in medical terms) so that FitSugar’s readers can be well informed on the topic.

Candidiasis is a "real" medical problem and refers to a fungal infection of any of the Candida species, of which Candida albicans is the most common. Candidiasis encompasses infections that range from superficial, such as oral thrush and vaginal yeast infections, to widespread and potentially life-threatening diseases. Infections in the last category are usually confined to severely immune system compromised persons (such as cancer, transplant recipients or HIV/AIDS patients). Candida is commonly present in our oral and intestinal tracts, and its growth is normally limited by the human immune system and by other organisms (such as bacteria) in the body. Candida overgrowth (which can happen in the gastrointestinal tract) can be associated with immune-compromised states (cancer, HIV/AIDS), diabetes, taking chronic steroid medications, prolonged or repeated use of antibiotics, and oral contraceptives.

Diagnosis of gastrointestinal candida infection should be performed by a physician and would likely require microscopic examination or culturing. Should a physician diagnose you with candidiasis, treatment would be with prescription strength anti-fungal medications. The take home message is that candidiasis is a very rare condition that occurs in individuals with immune-compromised conditions. Still, if you are concerned that you may have this condition or if your symptoms continue despite your physician’s recommendations, I urge you to seek re-evaluation with your physician.

Check back next week, when I discuss irritable bowel syndrome, since I have received a few questions on that subject.

Have a question for DrSugar? You can send to me via private message here, and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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emilyplayscello emilyplayscello 6 years
I suggest you all read this post: http://earthmother-intheraw.blogspot.com/2010/02/understanding-candida-finding-healthy.html or check out the book I mentioned earlier.
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 6 years
Hmm - this topic is very interesting to me as I am 26 and have suffered from abdominal pain since childhood - worsening in middleschool, highschool and college. I know the struggle and severe pain as someone diagnosed with - Celiac, Crohns disease, ucerative colitis and IBS - it sucks to say the least. Interested to hear more about gastro issues on the site.
Merlin713 Merlin713 6 years
Speaking from experience in the horrible things that can happen to a person's GI tract....candida doesn't 'feed on' sugar. But anyway, those things have already been talked about. I have ulcerative colitis (immune disorder [maybe?] that causes abdominal pain, frequent bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, etc). People tried to tell me what was wrong with me in the beginning -- starting with candida overgrowth. When I went in for an endoscopy and later a colonoscopy (and biopsy) it was confirmed left sided UC. That came to a close after a very long battle with my health. Moral of the story: go to the doctor. Go to a few doctors. Don't sit and deal with symptoms that you know are something else. Do your own research if you have to; you know your body best.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
When we do stool cultures to look for microorganisms, we report out yeast findings as well because they are almost always present in normal stool. The only time we would find an overgrowth is if the other surrounding flora in the intestinal tract is absent. So unless the OP is on some sort of antibiotic or chemo treatment that is wiping out all her intestinal flora, Candida overgrowth is probably not what it is. Severe stomach pain, acne flareups, and fatigue could be caused by a number of other things. If you see the doctor, have him/her do a parasite screen and a stool culture and probably get your liver enzymes checked. If it truly IS Candida, you would probably also see it present in the vaginal area.
emilyplayscello emilyplayscello 6 years
To anonymous: I don't know where you get your facts, but anecdotal evidence (myself included) supports what I said. People report life-changing effects when they eliminate sugar. In fact, I've never come across anyone who's eliminated sugar from their diet and NOT seen drastic improvement in their ailments.
emilyplayscello emilyplayscello 6 years
Candida overgrowth is a real problem that affects nearly anyone who follows a standard American diet (and many people who eat what they consider to be "healthy"). Symptoms range from gastrointestinal issues to headaches, fatigue, acne, and other chronic conditions. The best thing you can do for candida is CUT OUT ALL SUGAR. Candida feeds on sugar (and most carbohydrates, especially refined). The most effective way to rid candida is through diet. I suffered with unexplained digestive problems for years before I found the solution. Conventional Western medicine wants to prescribe drugs and run expensive tests that will ultimately not treat the problem at the source. Take a holistic approach. There are many great books written on the topic, such as "The Yeast Connection" by William Crook. Cutting back on sugar can be difficult at first (all sugars, even natural sugars in fruit), but your health will flourish as a result. Also, supplementing with probiotics and herbs that help rid the gut of bacteria/fungi is beneficial. You can buy candida cleanses that are a blend of potent herbs for killing intestinal bacteria. Doctors in Western medicine have had little to no success in treating and dealing with digestive disorders. Many people are diagnosed with IBS, prescribed medication, and given no serious dietary advice. If you are having digestive problems, it only makes sense to address diet very seriously. It's unfortunate to see such a conservative answer to such a complex question.
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