Candida and thyroid disease – are you aware of a possible link?

In this article we will explore the possible links between Candida and thyroid disease, including auto-immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.

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.​1​ 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: ​2–7​

  • taking antibiotics
  • undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy
  • the use of asthma inhalers
  • hormonal changes such as pregnancy or a change in the 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 four categories:

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

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

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

Skin Candida​1​

  • redness and irritation on the affected area
  • a rash-like appearance
  • broken skin

Testing

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 recurring condition so it is always best to obtain professional medical diagnosis and treatment.

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 a prescription. For more severe cases or reoccurring cases, you may require prescription treatment.  Treatments can come in a cream, pessary or tablet form.​8​

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

Prognosis varies significantly between patients depending on multiple factors such as age, sex, medication and general health.  You may only suffer from 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.

For more support check out our online community:
http://www.healthunlocked.com/thyroiduk

Date updated: 22/03/21 (V1.4)
Review date: 06/04/21

References

  1. 1.
    NHS. Thrush in men and women. NHS. Published October 27, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  2. 2.
    NHS. Oral Thrush (Mouth Thrush). NHS. Published July 8, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oral-thrush-mouth-thrush/
  3. 3.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal Candidiasis. CDC. Published November 10, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html
  4. 4.
    Yan L, Yang C, Tang J. Disruption of the intestinal mucosal barrier in Candida albicans infections. Microbiological Research. Published online August 2013:389-395. doi:10.1016/j.micres.2013.02.008
  5. 5.
    Schwalfenberg GK. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Published online 2012:1-7. doi:10.1155/2012/727630
  6. 6.
    Hedberg N. Autoimmune Thyroiditis. Dr Hedberg. https://drhedberg.com/autoimmune-thyroid/
  7. 7.
    Ehrström SM, Kornfeld D, Thuresson J, Rylander E. Signs of chronic stress in women with recurrent candida vulvovaginitis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Published online October 2005:1376-1381. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2005.03.068
  8. 8.
    NHS Scotland. Vaginal Thrush. NHS Inform. Published December 16, 2020. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/vaginal-thrush
  9. 9.
    Campbell R. Can Candida Affect The Thyroid. Dr Becky Campbell. https://drbeckycampbell.com/can-candida-affect-the-thyroid/
  10. 10.
    Kelly JR, Kennedy PJ, Cryan JF, Dinan TG, Clarke G, Hyland NP. Breaking down the barriers: the gut microbiome , intestinal permeability and stress-related psychiatric disorders. Front Cell Neurosci. Published online October 14, 2015. doi:10.3389/fncel.2015.00392
  11. 11.
    Smyth MC. Intestinal permeability and autoimmune diseases. Bioscience Horizons: The International Journal of Student Research. Published online 2017. doi:10.1093/biohorizons/hzx015
  12. 12.
    Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. Published online November 23, 2011:71-78. doi:10.1007/s12016-011-8291-x

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