Candida and the Links to Thyroid Disease


Candida and the Links to Thyroid Disease


What is candida?

Candida or candida albicans is a type of yeast or fungus that causes thrush.  It can live within our bodies without causing harm but in certain conditions or due to certain circumstances it can multiply causing yeast infections.  These infections can affect men, women, children and babies.  Candida can appear in the mouth or externally on the armpits, groin, fingernails and even the GI tract.  It is also frequently known to affect the vagina and penis but is not classed as an STI (sexually transmitted infection).  It is essentially harmless but can be a reoccurring concern that requires treatment.Thrush tends to grow in warm, moist conditions especially if the balance of bacteria changes.


What causes candida?

Candida can be caused by a variety of factors.  These include: 2,3,4,5,6,7

  • taking antibiotics
  • undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy
  • the use of asthma inhalers
  • hormonal changes such as pregnancy or a change in contraceptive pill
  • diabetes
  • weakened immune system
  • out of balance bodily pH levels
  • diet and obesity
  • stress


What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of candida vary depending on which part of the body it attacks.  We have broken the symptoms down into the four categories below:

  1. Oral Candida 2
    • oral redness with visible white spots/patches
    • an unpleasant taste in the mouth
    • soreness in the mouth including gums and tongue
    • difficulty eating and drinking
    • not being able to taste things properly
    • bad breath
  2. Vaginal Candida 1
    • itching and irritation around the vaginal area
    • redness around the vaginal area
    • a white discharge (which doesn’t usually smell)
    • soreness and stinging when urinating
    • pain and stinging during sex
  3. Penile Candida 1
    • irritation and burning around the head of the penis and foreskin
    • redness around the penile area
    • a white discharge (which may smell)
    • soreness and stinging when urinating
    • difficulty pulling back the foreskin
  4. Skin Candida1
    • redness and irritation on the affected area
    • a rash like appearance
    • broken skin



If you think you are suffering from candida it is important to seek professional medical advice from a pharmacist, nurse or doctor.  There are some self-test off the shelf products available but candida can be a reoccurring condition so it is always best to obtain professional medical diagnosis and treatment.



Treatment for candida can vary depending on the part of the body it has affected and the individual patient.  You may be advised to try a short course of antifungal medication – some of which are available over the counter without prescription. For more severe cases or reoccurring cases you may require a prescription treatment.  Treatments can come in a cream, pessary or tablet form. 8


What is the link between candida and thyroid disease?

Candida can impair the functionality of the digestive system aiding the development of autoimmune thyroiditis.  Candida is a form of yeast and when present within our intestines it can affect the amount of nutrients that our body is able to absorb, impacting the effectiveness of our immune system.  This can lead to the start or continuation of autoimmune thyroiditis.6

Candida may also cause “leaky gut” or “intestinal permeability,” – a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream.9,10  Leaky gut may then lead to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.11,12



Prognosis varies significantly between patients depending on multiple factors such as age, sex, medication and general health.  You may only suffer with a case of candida once in your lifetime and over the counter medication may provide effective treatment.  However, if you suffer from reoccurring attacks of candida or severe cases, treatment and prognosis could be very different and you may need more treatment


Check out what people are saying on our online community regarding candida:


Thyroid UK relies on donations so that we can continue to support and campaign for people with thyroid disease and related disorders.  If you have found our information helpful, please do think about donating or becoming a member.



Become a member




Antifungal – a drug or other substance used to prevent fungal growth

Candida – a yeast-like parasitic fungus that can sometimes cause thrush

Chemotherapy – the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs

GI tract – a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus

Oral – relating to the mouth

Pessary – a small soluble block that is inserted into the vagina to treat infection or as a contraceptive

Ph levels – the acidity or alkalinity of a solution



  1. NHS Choices – Thrush in men and women
  2. NHS Choices – Oral thrush (mouth thrush)
  3. CDC – Vaginal Candidiasis
  4. Disruption of the intestinal mucosal barrier in candida albicans infections
    Lei Yan, Chunhui Yang, Jianguo Tang
  5. The Alkaline Diet: Is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?
    Gerry K. Schwalfenberg
  6. Hashimoto’s Disease
    Dr Hedburg
  7. Signs of chronic stress in women with recurrent candida vulvovaginitis
    Ehrström SM1, Kornfeld D, Thuresson J, Rylander E.
  8. NHS Inform – Vaginal Thrush
  9. Can Candida affect the Thyroid
    Dr Becky Campbell
  10. Breaking down the barriers: the gut microbiome, intestinal permeability and stress-related psychiatric disorders
    John R. Kelly, Paul J. Kennedy, […], and Niall P. Hyland
  11. Intestinal permeability and autoimmune diseases
    Megan Ciara Smyth
  12. Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases
    Fasano A


Date updated: 23/04/20 (V1.3)
Review date: 06/04/21