Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can become a chronic health issue if left untreated. During the early stages of the disease, symptoms can be mild and are flu-like in nature. Early symptoms include muscle aches, headaches, and a bullseye-like rash at the site of the tick bite. Due to the fact that the disease does mimic the flu, it can be hard to diagnose – and if left untreated, Lyme disease can wreak havoc on the body.
Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease can include muscle and joint aches progressing to arthritis; neurological deficits that include memory and concentration issues; and fatigue. If the disease is not caught early, these symptoms can linger for months or years, even after treatment.
People who suffer from Lyme disease can also be more prone to Candidiasis. So exactly what is the link between Lyme disease and Candidiasis? Let’s take a look.
What is Candidiasis?
The candida bacteria is a type of yeast that helps the digestive system stay balanced. It’s one of the “good” types of bacteria that the body needs to function optimally. When it is produced in large amounts, however, it can cause infections throughout the body.
Candidiasis is the form of fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of the candida bacteria. The infection can come in many forms and affect different parts of the body, including the mouth (Oropharyngeal Candidiasis), the genital area (Genital Candidiasis), and the bloodstream (Invasive Candidiasis).
Symptoms of Candidiasis
The symptoms of Candidiasis vary depending on the type. Oropharyngeal Candidiasis, also known as thrush, affects the mouth and throat and can lead to a sore mouth or throat; patches on the tongue and in the mouth that are white or yellow in color; pain upon swallowing; and cracking skin around the mouth.
Genital Candidiasis affects the genital area and is often referred to as a yeast infection. Women suffer from Genital Candidiasis more than men, but men can still become infected. The symptoms include extreme itchiness, redness and swelling in the genital region, painful urination, and discharge.
Invasive Candidiasis is the most dangerous form of the infection. It can cause fever and chills, and is usually contracted by people with weakened immune systems and those who suffer from other conditions. This is where the link between Lyme disease and Candidiasis comes into play. People with Lyme can be more prone to developing an overgrowth of the candida bacteria because their immune systems are already compromised.
The link between Lyme disease and Candidiasis
Lyme disease can only be treated by high doses of antibiotics. These antibiotics go through the system to kill the Borrelia bacteria that is behind the Lyme disease infection. When antibiotics are in the system in high amounts, they tend to kill off good bacteria as well as bad bacteria, and this can lead to unbalanced immune and digestive systems.
Those undertaking Lyme disease treatment become more susceptible to developing a Candidiasis infection because the systems that need to run smoothly are disrupted. When a person with Lyme disease develops Candidiasis, it can lead to further immune disfunction, thus exacerbating the symptoms of Lyme disease and the patient’s ability to recover.
How to test for Candidiasis
There are a few different tests designed to determine whether a Candidiasis infection is present. The test used will be dependent on what type of Candidiasis infection is suspected. Thrush is diagnosed following an examination of the mouth. The doctor will look for lesions in the mouth and take a sample of the skin tissue to determine the cause of the issue. If the infection is suspected in the throat, an endoscopic exam may be required. If Candidiasis infection is confirmed, an oral antifungal medication will be used to rid the body of the infection.
For Genital Candidiasis, a pelvic exam will be done to check for swelling, discharge, and other symptoms. The treatment for a yeast infection can be an over-the-counter cream or suppository containing antifungal medication. An oral pill may also be prescribed.
For Invasive Candidiasis, diagnosis can only be performed following a blood test. Depending on the rate of infection, the patient’s medical history, and the strength of their immune system, treatment may vary. Typically, an antifungal medication will be introduced into the bloodstream intravenously. People suffering from Lyme disease may require more treatment than those with healthy immune systems when it comes to Invasive Candidiasis.
How to avoid Candidiasis
One of the best ways to avoid a Candidiasis infection is through good diet and supplementation. Because patients with Lyme disease can be more susceptible, it’s especially important for them to maintain a healthy level of bacteria and fight against nutritional deficiencies. Taking probiotics can restore a healthy gut flora, which will help prevent an overgrowth of the candida bacteria.
Eating foods high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, Omega-3, and magnesium will help keep the body running at its best. A healthy diet and good gut flora will also help those suffering from Lyme disease to strengthen their immune systems, adding to the prevention against candida overgrowth.
Featured image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash