Why are Candida Infections so Commonly Misdiagnosed?
Candida albicans is the yeast organism that lives naturally within the human body – every human body. With all the talk of probiotics, most people understand that there is a natural balance of good and bad bacteria in the body. There is also a balance between Candida albicans and healthy bacteria. The following are some of the most common misconceptions about Candida yeast, causing serious infections to be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Candida vs. the Vaginal Yeast Infection
Many people hear the word yeast and think immediately of the vaginal yeast infection, the most commonly referred to “yeast infection” issue out there. Yes, the Candida albicans yeast organism contributes to the development of the vaginal yeast infection, but that’s only one of the types of infection you can develop – certainly not the only. Other common yeast infections include oral thrush, jock itch, toenail fungus, and fungal skin infections. Things like leaky gut syndrome are also linked to but not necessarily always contributed properly to Candida.
Candida and the Immune System
Another huge problem is that medical doctors tend to brush off the idea of chronic Candida overgrowths. While many do believe in the existence of systemic candidiasis, this particular term only applies to people who develop fungal problems in conjunction with a major diagnosis impacting the immune system. AIDS is one such condition. The immune system is also severely compromised after radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Systemic candida can affect the brain, liver, lungs and other organs and is a condition that needs to be taken very seriously.
A general candida overgrowth isn’t labeled as systemic candida but it can definitely have huge impacts on the body – ranging from the symptoms of depression and anxiety to fatigue, gastrointestinal difficulties, and heart arrhythmias to urinary tract symptoms, vision problems, headaches, and menstrual problems.
Misdiagnosis, Antibiotics, and Candida
Let’s say you’re showing signs of a urinary tract infection. You feel tired, have headaches have trouble urinating, feel that tell-tale burning sensation, and more. The symptoms seem to fit those of a UTI. Let’s take a step back and look at the whole picture, though. You had a vaginal yeast infection (or jock itch, for the men), a few weeks before. You constantly feel bloated. You crave carbs and sugars, too. The symptoms don’t seem related, so you don’t mention them to your doctor.
Your doctor prescribes antibiotics for the assumed UTI (and in reality you really do have a UTI). As time progresses, the UTI clears up, but you generally begin to feel worse. You have another yeast infection, you’re tired and groggy, and you have digestive issues. Everyone tells you to take a probiotic because you need to replace the “good bacteria” the antibiotics destroyed. That’s partially true, but when the good and bad bacteria were attacked by the antibiotic, the balance of Candida to good bacteria was disturbed and the Candida albicans organism grew rapidly. You now have a Candida overgrowth.
Antibiotics and probiotics won’t cure a Candida infection. As a matter of fact, your doctor may continue to misdiagnose you because of your other symptoms. You need to take all of your symptoms into consideration together and then ask your doctor for additional testing.
So What Can You Do?
First of all, make sure you receive a Candida test. There are several options but the most common are the Candida-5 blood test and the spit test. Your doctor can order the blood test, formally referred to as the CanDia5 test, or you can order it yourself online. This test will look for not only Candida albicans, but for other forms of candida as well.
The spit test can easily be done at home and should be done first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. Grab a glass of water and spit into it. Check back every 15 minutes for an hour. If the spit is floating at the top of the glass, you don’t have Candida. If stringy legs are starting to reach down into the glass, you likely do have an infection.
Talking to Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor to make sure you are properly diagnosed. While you may have some other conditions that need to be treated, Candida albicans overgrowths need a combination of probiotics, anti-fungals, and a proper Candida diet protocol. Don’t allow yourself to be misdiagnosed time after time, and don’t allow your doctor to prescribe more than one round of antibiotics for any given condition without questioning why you aren’t getting better. Your health is in your hands.