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What causes yeast in the body: 6 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (Plus How to Get Rid of It)

6 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (Plus How to Get Rid of It)

Candida overgrowth can cause several health problems, including digestive issues, fatigue, and joint pain. Addressing the underlying cause can help ease symptoms of candidiasis and prevent recurring infections.

Many types of fungi live in and on the human body, including the genus of yeasts known as Candida.

Candida is typically found in small amounts in the mouth and intestines and on the skin.

At normal levels, the fungus is not problematic. However, when Candida begins to grow uncontrollably, it can cause an infection known as candidiasis.

In fact, Candida is one of the most common causes of fungal infections in humans (1, 2).

This article explores 6 symptoms of Candida overgrowth, how it’s caused, and how you can treat it.

Typically, the healthy bacteria in your body keep Candida levels under control.

However, if healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised, Candida can begin to overproduce.

Below are a few factors that can lead to Candida overgrowth (3, 4, 5, 6, 7):

  • taking antibiotics
  • eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs
  • high alcohol intake
  • a weakened immune system
  • taking oral contraceptives
  • diabetes
  • high stress levels

When Candida begins to overproduce, it can lead to health problems.

Candida can cause a range of symptoms, depending on which part of the body it affects.

Mouth symptoms with oral thrush

Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called “thrush.”

It’s most common in newborns, older adults, and people with a weakened immune system (8).

Individuals with poor oral hygiene or removable dentures are also at an increased risk (9).

People with oral thrush typically develop white, bumpy patches on their tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils, or throat (10).

The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped.

Oral thrush is also often associated with redness or soreness of the tongue and mouth (10).

In severe cases, it can spread to the esophagus and cause pain or difficulty swallowing.


When there is too much Candida in the mouth, it can cause white, bumpy lesions, redness, and pain in the mouth and throat. This is also known as oral thrush.

2. Tiredness and fatigue

One of the most common symptoms associated with Candida is fatigue.

While there’s no evidence that Candida causes fatigue, there are a couple of ways in which it could contribute to it.

First, candidiasis is often accompanied by nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, and magnesium (11).

In particular, magnesium deficiency has been known to cause fatigue (12).

Second, Candida infections commonly occur when the immune system is weakened.

A low-functioning immune system in itself may leave you feeling tired and fatigued.

One older study from 1995 suggests that prolonged candidiasis of the gut may even be a potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. However, more research is needed (13).


Candidiasis is most common in individuals with a weakened immune system and may be accompanied by various nutritional deficiencies. This can leave you feeling tired and fatigued.

3. Recurring genital or urinary tract infections

Candida is found in the vaginal tracts of about 20% of females (14).

An overgrowth of Candida can lead to candidiasis of the vagina, also known as a yeast infection.

It is estimated that 1.4 million people visit a doctor for a vaginal yeast infection each year in the United States (14).

Males can also get genital yeast infections, but it’s much less common (15).

Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse, and a thick, white discharge from the vagina (16).

Although not common, Candida can also cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Candida-related urinary tract infections are most common in older adults and hospitalized or immune-compromised individuals (17).

Symptoms of a UTI include a burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent urge to urinate, cloudy, dark, or strange-smelling urine, and pain or pressure in your lower abdomen (18).

That being said, other bacteria like E. coli are more likely to cause UTIs (18).

However, if you experience recurring infections and believe they are a result of Candida overgrowth, you can talk to a doctor about having your urine tested to find out.


Candida can cause genital and urinary tract infections, both of which can lead to pain and discomfort.

4. Digestive issues

The health of your digestive system relies heavily on a good balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria that live in your gut.

The “good” bacteria that normally reside in your gut are important for digestion, as they help process starches, fibers, and some sugars.

When the bacteria in your gut become imbalanced, you can experience digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, and bloating (19).

Recent studies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is associated with several diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (20, 21).


Having small amounts of Candida in your gut is normal. However, if it starts to overproduce, it may cause various gut-related symptoms.

5. Skin and nail symptoms

Just like in your gut, there are bacteria on your skin that prevent Candida from growing uncontrollably.

All bacteria thrive in different conditions, including varying temperature, moisture, or acidity levels.

For this reason, a change in the environment on your skin can allow Candida to overproduce (22).

For example, antibacterial cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers can often alter skin conditions (23).

While skin candidiasis can affect any part of the body, areas that are warm and moist, such as the armpits and groin, are particularly prone to infection (24).

Itching and a visible rash are the two most common symptoms of skin fungal infections.

While not life-threatening, skin fungal infections can cause several unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms.


An overgrowth of Candida on the skin can cause symptoms like itching and a visible rash.

6. Joint pain

If a Candida infection enters your bloodstream and travels through your body, it can infect the joints and cause arthritis (25).

This typically only happens after surgery or when an overgrowth of Candida is left untreated for an extended period of time.

Candida arthritis is associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints and often affects the hips and knees.

Candida can also cause bone infections, or osteomyelitis, which can cause pain and tenderness in the infected area (26).

While bone and joint infections are not very common, they can be challenging to treat and often require medications prescribed by a doctor (27).


If an overgrowth of Candida is left untreated, it can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your entire body. When this happens, Candida can infect bones and joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.

The food you eat plays an important role in maintaining the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

In particular, foods high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may promote the growth of Candida (28).

While more research is needed, one study found that people who avoided these foods during treatment for Candida had better outcomes after 3 months (28).

Additionally, certain foods may help protect against Candida infections, including:

  • Garlic: Garlic contains several antifungal compounds like allicin, some of which have been shown to act against Candida yeasts in test-tube studies (29, 30).
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which has been shown to fight Candida infections in multiple test-tube studies (31, 32).
  • Curcumin: Test-tube studies indicate that curcumin may kill Candida yeasts, or at least reduce their growth (33).
  • Xylitol: According to one test-tube study, xylitol may possess powerful antimicrobial properties and could help reduce Candida growth (34).
  • Aloe vera: Test-tube studies suggest that aloe vera gel may inhibit the growth of Candida, which could help protect against infection (35).
  • Pomegranate: One animal study showed that certain compounds found in pomegranate peel extract could be beneficial against Candida yeasts (36).
  • Kombucha: Kombucha tea is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid, both of which have been shown to kill Candida in test-tube studies (37).
  • Probiotics: Probiotics like Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii may reduce Candida growth and protect against infections (38, 39).

What are some home remedies for oral thrush?

The best way to treat candidiasis and prevent recurring infections is to address the underlying cause.

A doctor may prescribe an antifungal drug, such as:

  • nystatin
  • clotrimazole
  • amphotericin B
  • miconazole
  • econazole
  • fluconazole

The type of drug and the dosage will depend on the severity and location of the infection. In some cases, a single dose will clear the infection. In others, a person may need ongoing treatment for up to 6 months (15).

Learn more here

Find out more about different types of Candida infections:

  • Candidiasis of the skin
  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • What is oral thrush?
  • How does thrush affect men?

How do you clear up Candida?

A doctor can prescribe antifungal medications such as nyastatin or clotrimazole. These are available as pills or creams, depending on which part of the body Candida affects and how severe the infection is (15).

What kills Candida quickly?

The time it takes to clear Candida will also depend on the severity of the infection and how soon a person gets treatment. Some cases only need a single treatment, For recurring vaginal infections, however, you may need treatment for up to 6 months (15).

Can diet improve Candida?

No foods can cure Candida, but items that are high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may make it worse. Foods that may help protect you from an infection include garlic, curcumin, kombucha, and probiotics.

Several factors can contribute to Candida overgrowth, including certain medications, underlying health conditions, and lifestyle factors.

Modifying your diet may be beneficial for candidiasis and could help ease symptoms related to infection, including fatigue, joint pain, and digestive issues.

A doctor can also help identify the cause of infection and determine the best course of treatment based on your needs.

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Candida is a genus of yeast that naturally occurs in the intestines, on the skin, and in mucous membranes. Most people have some level of Candida throughout the body. It’s usually harmless.

However, an overgrowth of Candida can lead to an infection called candidiasis. The mouth and vagina are the two most common places for candidiasis. An overgrowth can also occur in the intestines. This can cause Candida to appear in your stool.

Symptoms of candidiasis differ depending on what part of the body is affected. Candidiasis in your mouth is called thrush. It causes white lesions that look like cottage cheese on your tongue or inner cheeks. It may also lead to soreness or burning and can spread to other parts of your mouth or throat.

Candidiasis in the vagina is commonly called a yeast infection. It causes itching, abnormal discharge, and pain during sex or while urinating.

Symptoms of Candida overgrowth in your intestines may include flatulence and cravings for sweets.


Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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Inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract

Different forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can cause inflammation in your GI tract. Inflammation changes the intestinal environment and has been shown to result in higher levels of Candida in the intestines.

Other symptoms of IBD include:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • unintended weight loss
  • abdominal cramps and pain
  • blood in stool

Proton pump inhibitor use

Proton pump inhibitors are a common treatment for acid reflux. They reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. This can change the environment of your intestines and give Candida the right conditions to grow.


Taking antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum antibiotics, can lead to fungal growth. This is because antibiotics can kill some of the good bacteria that help keep yeast from growing out of control by competing for space and food. When you stop taking antibiotics, your immune system will go back to normal. But while you’re taking the medication, you might see Candida in your stool.

Conditions that result in a compromised immune system

When your immune system is compromised, Candida might start to grow out of control. This is because a normally functioning immune system will keep naturally occurring fungus in check. Candida is often found in people living with HIV or stage 3 HIV (AIDS) who are experiencing diarrhea.

A normal gut environment

Candida is a normal part of a healthy gut environment. While you usually won’t notice it in your stool, you might once in a while, even if you don’t have an overgrowth.

To test for Candida in your stool, your doctor will first take a stool sample. They’ll examine it under a microscope to see if there’s Candida growth. Then they’ll take a small sample and let it incubate for a few days so that any yeast in your stool can grow. Your doctor will examine it again to figure out exactly what yeast is present.

However, many healthy people have Candida in their gut, so a stool sample isn’t always the best diagnostic test. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might also take a sample of other affected body parts or a blood sample to test for Candida. If you have a Candida infection in your mouth or genitals, your doctor can usually make a diagnosis just by the appearance of the infection.

Candida can be treated with antifungal medications. The most commonly used one, fluconazole, can be taken in pill form to treat Candida in your stool.

If an underlying condition such as IBD is causing Candida in your stool, it’ll be treated as well. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms to find the right treatment for you. Common treatments for IBD include anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressant drugs.

If a medication is causing Candida in your stool, like proton pump inhibitors or antibiotics, talk to your doctor about the best way to discontinue the medication.

While an unhealthy gut can be the result of genetics or underlying disease, there are some things you can do to help keep your intestines healthy. These include:

  • Only take antibiotics when necessary. In addition to killing whatever is making you sick, antibiotics can reduce the levels of good bacteria in your gut. This can allow Candida to grow. Sometimes it’s necessary to take antibiotics, but make sure you only take them in those cases.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet that includes whole grains and foods with lots of fiber, such as beans and apples, will help keep your gut healthy. Increasing the diversity of bacteria in your gut is another way to make sure your intestinal environment stays healthy. You can do this by eating a wide variety of healthy foods.
  • Take probiotics. Probiotics are supplements made up of live microorganisms, usually bacteria. There’s mixed evidence for them, but some research suggests that taking probiotics can help the bacteria in your gut stay balanced. Talk to your doctor about adding a probiotic to your daily routine.
  • Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt, are foods that have been altered by bacteria or yeasts. Therefore, they contain a lot of bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy.
  • Eat prebiotic food. Prebiotic foods promote the development of good bacteria in your gut. Foods with lots of fiber or complex carbs are your best sources of prebiotics. These include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Candida in your stool is curable with antifungal medications, so talk with your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms. In addition, the potential underlying causes of Candida in stool can be treated. Candida overgrowth doesn’t cause any lasting negative health effects.

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