One of the more common causes of digestive problems is Candida, or yeast.
Although there are other types of yeast, Candida is the word usually used to describe a problem with yeast. Although many people think of yeast infections as a female problem, yeast is an organism that can colonize any orifice.
In the mouth it is known as thrush. In the digestive tract it is often called a yeast overgrowth, or simply candida. These do not have to occur together. However, they are essentially the same problem.
What are the symptoms of Candida?
Yeast can cause a large number of symptoms, including all of those of irritable bowel syndrome – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
How do you get Candida?
Candida are a normal part of the environment. However, a problem occurs when they get out of balance with the normal good bacteria found in your digestive tract. Then they can develop into an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract and cause problems there as well as elsewhere in your body.
Why does this happen?
One of the most common things that cause yeast to get out of control is the use of antibiotics. There are other causes too, but antibiotics provide an excellent case study. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they do not kill Candida or yeast. Only antifungals kill yeast.
Therefore taking antibiotics kills off bacteria that are in direct competition with yeast for territory in your digestive tract. This is similar to any other battlefield. Everyone wants territory.
In this scenario yeast can flourish, potentially creating an environment where there is more yeast than is desirable.
What other symptoms can Candida cause?
People with Candida or an overgrowth of yeast often describe having symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and headaches, to name a few. This does not necessarily mean that they have yeast throughout their body. That is highly unlikely and is an extremely dangerous condition. However, the yeast in their digestive tract can create toxins that affect the rest of the body.
How do you test for Candida?
The most accurate way to test for Candida is to culture it or find it on a stool test. At the IBS Treatment Center we now use DNA stool testing to measure genetic material from organisms in the digestive tract.
This is by far the most advanced method for detecting candida or yeast and eliminates any guesswork. It also quantifies the amount of yeast present, telling us exactly what we are dealing with.
How do you treat Candida?
A serious yeast overgrowth usually requires strong antifungal medication. However, this does not always have to be pharmaceutical.
Many natural antifungals are also very effective. Both vary in effectiveness depending on the strain of yeast present. The proper treatment is determined as part of the lab test for yeast.
Will probiotics help?
Probiotics, or good bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, may help. But they can also stir up the problem and make it worse. Usually the yeast must first be treated with an antifungal.
Does diet affect Candida?
Yeasts thrive on sugars and refined carbohydrates. Many theories exist on the relationship between foods and yeast, and there are more anti-candida diets then can be counted.
However, there is no doubt that the less sugar in the diet the better when it comes to preventing or treating a yeast problem.
When it comes to solving IBS, you should always be tested for the presence of Candida (yeast). Candida is common and cannot be counted on to go away on its own.
But understanding what you are dealing with will make a huge difference in your ability to get well.
QUESTIONS? Contact our office to make an appointment at Info@IBSTreatmentCenter.com or toll-free at 1.888.546.6283. The IBS Treatment Center helps patients from all over the U.S. and around the world. Most patients only require one office visit.
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Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.