Candida is a yeast, not the maple syrup-loving country in North America - although Candida can be found in Canada as well!
Candida sometimes causes a mild yeast infection, but in some situations, can get into the bloodstream and cause severe illness.
Now, there are various types of Candida species, and over twenty of them cause disease in humans - C. albicans, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. krusei, C. auris, the list goes on.
Of these, the most common one is C. albicans. Candida is found throughout the body; it likes warm, moist environments like the mouth, the diaper region of babies, and in women it can be found in the vagina.
Now, it’s normal for microbes - bacteria, fungi, and viruses - to live all over the body, but each microbe is slightly different in terms of whether it’s colonizing the body - in other words just living and not causing any problems, or whether it’s infecting the body, causing some degree of tissue damage or destruction.
An important factor is exactly how much of a microbe is present.
Candida is considered an opportunistic microbe.
When the amount of Candida is relatively low, it's harmless.
But if a person’s immune system is weakened or if there’s less competition for the Candida, then the amount of Candida can increase - and that’s called Candida overgrowth.
Now, Candida can exist in multiple forms - it’s a bit like a chameleon.
Sometimes the cells can appear round or oval and these are called yeast cells, other times it can appear like hyphae where it looks like long thin filaments - kind of like a segmented cactus plant.
It can also take an in-between appearance called pseudohyphae.
Each of these morphologies or “looks” reflect the same Candida cells that are expressing different protein profiles, and they give the cells different properties.
When the Candida is in “yeast mode” it’s better at moving from one part of the body to another, whereas when it’s in “filamentous mode” it’s better at invading tissues.