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Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the transfer of Borrelia bacteria from an infected tick to its host. If left untreated, Lyme often comes with a wide range of debilitating effects, including flu-like symptoms, arthritis and cognitive disfunction. The treatment for Lyme disease is an antibiotics course, but if the disease has progressed past early-stage Lyme disease, treatment can become near impossible as the bacteria sticks around, causing chronic Lyme disease.
When a person is diagnosed with Lyme disease, the condition is often found to occur simultaneously with a wide array of other infections. These are referred to as Lyme disease co-infections. Additional side effects can further occur, such as candidiasis. Let’s take a look at exactly what candidiasis is, and why candidiasis is common in Lyme disease patients.
Signs and symptoms of candidiasis
Candidiasis is often referred to as a yeast infection, or thrush. It is caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the body. Candida can be found on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract, and the mouth, and when it occurs in normal amounts, it doesn’t do any harm.
However, when that aforementioned overgrowth occurs, it can cause infection and lead to conditions and symptoms such as:
- Red, itchy skin
- Thrush (oral candidiasis)
- Itching in the genital area (vaginal yeast infection)
- Oesophagitis (oesophageal infection)
- Diaper rash
- Candida sepsis
In many cases of infection caused by the overgrowth of yeast, symptoms will be mild. The infection can cause itching, rashes and difficulty with swallowing or breathing (oesophagitis). In more severe cases, such as candida sepsis, the symptoms and repercussions of the infection can be dire. When candida gets into the bloodstream, it can cause a blood infection that may lead to fever, shock and even organ failure.
How do you treat candidiasis?
The treatment for candidiasis will vary depending on the severity of the infection and the type. In the case of a vaginal yeast infection, the most common type of candidiasis, oral antifungal medications and topical ointments can be applied to relieve symptoms and help rid the body of the overgrown yeast.
In the case of candida sepsis, treatment may need to be more extensive. Antifungal drugs will need to be administered to the patient intravenously, and the amount and type of medication will be entirely dependent on the patient’s personal medical history. Those with low white blood cells will need a specific type of antifungal to knock out the fungal overgrowth, and treatment will need to begin shortly after the onset of the infection to avoid the spread to other organs.
Medications generally used in the treatment of candidiasis include:
Does Lyme disease cause candidiasis?
Although Lyme disease isn’t a direct cause of the overgrowth of candida within the body, the treatment of Lyme disease can be. Lyme disease treatment primarily involves a heavy dose of strong antibiotics. Antibiotics tend to wipe out all the bacteria within the body without prejudice, including the good bacteria. This enables yeasts to overgrow more easily. To correct the loss of the good, gut-boosting bacteria lost during treatment, Lyme patients are encouraged to undergo probiotic treatment to restore the gut flora.
In the opposite way, the overgrowth of candida albicans can actually worsen Lyme disease symptoms as well, due to its ability to increase production of cytokines. Cytokines are introduced into the body to help with immune function and cell signalling. When there are too many cytokines, however, a ‘cytokine storm’ can occur, which can lead to fever, inflammation, and occasionally very severe complications such as organ failure.
The Candidiasis Diet
In the past, a strict no-carbohydrate diet was implemented to try and starve Candida albicans, but it has since been proven that there is no factual basis behind that specific anti-candida diet. However, there are diet changes that can be made to help battle recurring candidiasis.
Eating a diet rich in wholefoods, vitamins and minerals is a great way to avoid or help treat a candida overgrowth infection naturally. Limiting sugar intake (even consumed through fruit), introducing complex carbohydrates through wholegrain products, and increasing both fat and protein intake can also help with a candida infection. When a diet is balanced in all essential vitamins and macronutrients, the restoration of gut flora becomes easier.
Eating foods with antibiotic properties such as fresh herbs and garlic can also encourage the proper amount of candida growth within the body, and probiotics can be introduced via supplementation or through foods like kefir or yogurt. Since the overgrowth of candida bacteria is a common problem in those who suffer from Lyme disease, Make Well is also currently working on a unique formulation to help combat the problem for patients suffering from Lyme disease and its co-infections.