A Candida overgrowth in the gut can cause a lot of different symptoms. These symptoms are so varied that you’d be forgiven if you wondered how they could all possibly be tied back to Candida. We’ve treated thousands of cases of Candida overgrowth, and I’m still blown away at how toxic and problematic a Candida overgrowth in the gut can be.
People who suffer from a Candida overgrowth often complain of gas, bloating, diarrhea or loose stools, and abdominal pain. But I’ve found that just as many have constipation instead of diarrhea. And it’s not unusual for these patients to have skin breakouts, fatigue, headaches and even brain fog.
And that’s just a starter list of some of the most common symptoms associated with a Candida overgrowth. Of course, lots of other things can also cause these symptoms, so you can’t diagnose a Candida overgrowth based on symptoms alone.
Candida in low levels is not unusual in the digestive tract. But Candida often takes advantage of our modern-day lifestyle to grow to levels far beyond normal low levels. Once it gets to this point, it will wreak havoc with your health.
So how does Candida cause all of these problems? Candida is a yeast, or a fungus. And yeast thrive on sweets and sugars. In that way, they are not different than most other yeast.
For example, we use yeast to make bread. It feeds on the sugars in the recipe and creates a gas, which causes the bread to rise. We also use yeast to make alcohol. Again, it feeds on sugars and starches and creates a gas, which is what makes beer foamy.
Candida in the gut is doing the same thing. It’s feeding on sugars and starches and creating a gas. This is why many people with a Candida overgrowth experience gas and bloating. And when that gas gets trapped, they experience pain, because trapped gas can cause a huge amount of pain, and often you don’t even realize that it’s gas pain.
Candida also breaks down your food differently than your normal good bacteria. So once you have a major candida overgrowth in your gut, you stop digesting food properly, whether it’s a sugar or a starch or something else. And when that happens you may feel like you have trouble digesting virtually any type of food.
This in turn can lead to diarrhea or constipation. Why it’s one way in some people and the other way in others, I have no idea. But I can tell you that I’ve seen it go either way.
So how does Candida cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and even skin breakouts?
Here’s where I think things get really interesting. Candida creates a lot of toxic chemicals. Remember alcohol? We get alcohol from yeast. Candida is a type of yeast, and it also creates a lot of nasty chemicals. Those chemicals get absorbed from the digestive tract into the body. And once that happens, all kinds of things can go wrong.
This is why many people with a Candida overgrowth in the gut experience headaches, fatigue, and brain fog. It’s also why Candida can cause skin breakouts, joint pain, and a lot of other problems.
Some people with Candida overgrowth even feel like they are hungover all the time, even when they haven’t had a drink for days. Because they are literally being intoxicated from within.
I even saw a patient once who had this condition. He was his own brewery. It’s a syndrome called auto-brewery syndrome. He was basically a little bit drunk all the time. Wow! What a mess.
Why Do People with a Candida Overgrowth Experience Different Symptoms?
There are probably a lot of reasons for this, from differences in physiology and genetics, to differences in different species and strains of Candida that produce different chemicals. And there are also other types of yeast that can problems, yeasts that are not Candida.
What I can tell you is that once these patients are treated for it, they get better. Although that’s easier said than done. But that’s how I know that so many different symptoms can be caused by a Candida overgrowth, because I’ve seen them in our patients, and I’ve seen those symptoms go away.
I realize that this leads to a lot of other questions, like Why doesn’t my doctor recognize this? How do you test for it? And how do you treat it? Look for my other videos on these and other topics related to Candida and digestive health.
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.