How do you test for Candida overgrowth?
Test #1 IgG, IgA and IgM Candida Antibodies
Blood tests check for Immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, and IgM) Candida antibodies in your blood, and can be performed at most any lab. Immunoglobulins are immune cells that will show elevated on a lab test in the presence of a certain pathogen. This is often how infectious diseases are diagnosed, through immunoglobulin levels. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present somewhere in the body and that your immune system is reacting to it.
Remember, Candida has the ability to suppress the immune system so it is important to ask your doctor to test your total IgG, IgA and IgM levels along with the Candida antibodies.
Low levels of total IgG, IgA or IgM could cause a false negative response to the Candida antibodies, meaning you have Candida but since your immune system is lowered, you are unable to produce a response and your blood test comes back negative.
Since I see so many patients with suppressed immune systems, I find Candida antibodies to be less sensitive than the other tests in trying to establish whether there are yeast issues in the gut.
I have seen cases with high arabinose and other yeast-sensitive markers on the urine test, but no elevations in the blood immunoglobulins. The Candida problem needs to be quite systemic before blood immunoglobulins are going to rise, where I think the urine and stool tests are more sensitive to intestinal yeast overgrowth.
Test #1 Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Often, I will see clues on a CBC that let me know that Candida is present. A low white blood cell count (WBC) has been associated with Candida overgrowth as well as a pattern of high neutrophil and low lymphocyte count.
Test #2 Stool Testing
I personally find stool testing to be critical to the long term treatment of candida and fungal infections. Stool testing not only provides accurate testing to the presence of Candida in your colon or lower intestines, it also provide vital information on how to support and heal the gut. Keep in mind that Yeast/fungal overgrowth is usually secondary to a variety of imbalances in the gut.
What I like about this test is that comprehensive stool analysis (CDSA) and the GI Map can provide clues as to what else is going on:
- Are there parasites in the gut?
- Is there Fat or Protein in the stool? Malabsorption problems
- Is their bacterial overgrowth? what kind of bacterial overgrowth is there
- Are there any pathogenic bacteria showing up at high levels?
- What are the levels of secretory IgA?
- Is there inflammation in the Gut? (This gives a window into the immune health of the gut itself)
- What strains of bacteria are missing from the microbiome?
- Which ones do we have too much of?
- What kind of problems are there with Digestion or absorption?
Test #3 OAT Test- Organic Acids
OAT testing or Microbial organic acid test – this is a urine test and can be done in the comfort of your own home. It measures a number of markers associated with yeast, but to me the most useful one is called arabinose – this is a waste product of Candida that shows up in the urine.
I like this test because it is easy for adults and children to collect the sample at home – just a single morning urine test is all that is needed. There are pediatric collection bags available for kids who are not potty trained, that go inside their diaper.
I also like it because it really quantifies the problem. If the level is supposed to be less than 29, and it comes back at 35, then we know we have a more advanced problem.
If the level comes back at 20, we know we know that we catching a problem in advance. It’s also a great marker to check throughout treatment to make sure treatment is going in the right direction.