candida spelled in block letters

Yeast overgrowth, aka candida or candidiasis affects many people from babies to elderly adults. Frequent use of antibiotics, poor food choices and sugary diets, conditions associated with the digestive tract (IBS, IBD) or mold exposures can lead to an imbalance of yeast in the body. This can be tested for and resolved with the help of specialized testing and treatment.

What Is Candida?

Candida is a type of yeast that is common to humans. There are many different species within the genus candida, however the term “candida” has become synonymous with the concept of yeast overgrowth. Yeast are single-celled organisms in the fungus kingdom and small amounts of yeast growing in the digestive tract can be normal and not cause symptoms.

What Is Candidiasis?

The condition of yeast overgrowth can also be termed candidiasis. When populations of one or multiple yeast species become too high to maintain a balanced flora in the digestive, reproductive, urinary and respiratory tracts or skin and sinuses, inflammation arises and a multitude of symptoms can be experienced.

Digestive symptoms include gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, heartburn, acid reflux and often reactivity to foods and drinks such as sugar, white carbohydrates (potato, rice, bread), beer and wine. Sugar cravings can become a challenge to control when yeast are overgrown, the main food source for yeast to maintain life and reproduce is simple sugars.

Vaginal yeast infections are often a sign of candidiasis. Many women experience this post antibiotic use because taking antibiotics kills off many species of bacteria which are the natural competitors for yeast. Small colonies of naturally occurring yeast can become larger and spread to new areas in the body easier with less competition for space.

Some skin rashes, especially in folds of the skin are actually overgrown yeast colonies. Redness, itching and worsening with heat are some of the symptoms but the main giveaway clue is the location in a fold – under the breasts, buttocks, nasolabial regions are more common. Response to topical antifungals is often positive, but recurrence is common when the internal yeast colonies are not treated too.

Symptoms of Candidiasis

Due to the many different body locations of yeast overgrowth that are possible, many different and seemingly unrelated symptoms can result. Aside from digestive symptoms (bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea) and reactions to eating sugar and drinking beer or other alcohol, symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, oral canker sores, hair loss, hot flashes, swelling, inability to lose weight, itching and vaginal discharge can be yeast-related.

Sometimes, the only main symptom is iron deficiency. Other times, many of the above effects from yeast overgrowth are observed. A detailed history taken during a first visit should help identify if testing for candida would help to narrow down the underlying cause.

How Do You Test for Candida and Candidiasis?

There are a few ways to test for candida/candidiasis and it depends on what other test details might be helpful for the full picture. Stool and blood testing both provide information about yeast overgrowth.

A stool test provides the bigger picture of the microbiome, or types and amounts of bacteria and yeast living in the large intestine. Different variations of this test can be ordered to add on parasite profiles, inflammatory markers and DNA analysis of the flora. The simplest test will culture stool and identify the species of bacteria and yeast observed. If any species are inflammatory in nature, a sensitivity test is completed by the lab to identify which herbs and pharmaceuticals will best kill off that species. Yeast can be difficult to culture in a lab, so an additional microscopic analysis is performed to determine the amount of yeast found in the sample. This test is excellent at seeing the bigger picture, including bacteria. The one drawback is that in rare circumstances, sometimes yeast can be missed and do not grow or are not seen in the results. This test is shipped back to the lab through one of the major courier companies, results are in around 2 weeks later.

The second option for identifying yeast overgrowth is a finger-stick analysis of a dried blood sample. The lab identifies levels of 3 types of immune markers that are created against candida species. This will show if there is a current, recent or chronic yeast overgrowth and higher levels of immune markers correlates to a higher immune response and likely higher rate of growth. This convenient test can be completed at home by the patient and mailed through regular post to the lab company. Results are usually reported within 2 weeks.

Sometimes, patients will complete both tests to ensure that a diagnosis of candidiasis is most accurately determined. A complete digestive analysis would additionally include a SIBO breath test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth to ensure the most individualized treatment plan can be put in place.

Should You Get Regularly Tested for Candida?

Once an initial test for yeast overgrowth is completed, it might not be necessary to retest again. A negative test would indicate other areas should be more thoroughly investigated and different tests ordered. If candida testing reveals the presence of overgrown yeast, a test can be helpful after treatment to ensure resolution. This can be done either by stool analysis or blood testing.

Preparing For a Candida Test

Preparation is easy. Avoiding antifungal medications and herbs for at least 2 weeks is generally recommended for stool testing so that colony counts are not affected by supplements. Strict, long-term sugar diets might also yield false-negative stool results and should be discussed with the physician prior to ordering the test. Blood testing for candida does not require any prior preparation.

Can You Test for Candida at Home?

Yes! Both stool and blood tests are completed at home. Test kits can be picked up at the clinic location and performed at home. Videos regarding collection and shipment are available on the Lab Testing page along with sample reports.

Common Results from a Candida Test

Stool testing yields information about both bacteria and yeast growing (or not growing) in the large intestine. Yeast strains are identified when present and the amount of growth is categorized on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being the highest amount of colonization. Depending on the type of the yeast species and the amount, the growth is further divided into normal flora and abnormal, or dysbiotic, flora. If dysbiotic yeast is found, a sensitivity is performed using multiple herbs and pharmaceutical agents to see which kills off the yeast strain. This detailed analysis allows for individual protocols to treat yeast overgrowth.

The dried blood test shows relative amounts of 3 types of immune responses against candida species. IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies are tested for and abnormal results would be a count of over 100 units in any of the 3 immunoglobulins.

Book Your Candida Test Today!

Testing for candida is easy and relatively quick. Patients can opt to book for 2 types of appointments to evaluate yeast overgrowth. The simplest way is to book a 15 minute phone laboratory only appointment. Time is permitted to discuss concerns, ask questions and to review how to perform the test. When results are available, another 15 minute appointment is booked to get a detailed analysis of test results.

Alternatively and also the preferred appointment that can be booked is a first visit. This appointment lasts for 1 hour and can be in-person, phone or video and a full health history is discussed. This allows time to go into details regarding symptoms, length of time of symptoms, severity and other seemingly non-related concerns (also often very related!). A relevant physical exam and discussion over the different possible tests to consider with the whole health picture in mind is discussed. Yeast testing may be part of the treatment plan and when results are available, a full length appointment is booked to review results in detail and start with a treatment plan.