Thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a yeast-like fungus found in an infected mouth. Oral candidiasis is a mycosis of Candida species on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Candida is normally present in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. However, if the immune system can no longer balance the normal amount of Candida in the body, it may result in an overgrowth and develop into an infection in the mouth or throat (esophageal candidiasis).
Signs and Symptoms
Oral thrush often looks like cottage cheese or milk curds. It may be triggered by a variety of factors. Some general symptoms and signs of thrush are as follows:
✓ Soreness or burning in the mouth
✓ White or yellow patches of bumps on your inner cheeks, tongue, tonsils, gums, or lips
✓ Dry, cracked skin at the corners of the mouth
✓ Cotton-like sensation in the mouth
✓ Difficulty swallowing
✓ Loss or a bad taste in the mouth
An overgrowth of the fungus Candida is what causes oral thrush. It may be triggered by pregnancy, new medications, changes in the immune system, or illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and dry mouth. Some other causes may include:
✓ Undergoing chemotherapy, taking antibiotics, corticosteroids, or pills
✓ Organ transplant
✓ Poorly fitting dentures
Scraping is done by a dental specialist to confirm the diagnosis under a microscopic view. Endoscopy, on the other hand, is done to diagnose thrush located farther down the throat or in the esophagus. This procedure encompasses a small camera that slides through the back of the throat, into the esophagus and into the stomach to observe the tissue and take samples. If the white lesions are found, they may be biopsied or scraped by a gastroenterologist.
Prevention and Treatment
To reduce your risk of oral thrush, you may try the following:
✓ Maintain a nutritious diet to strengthen your immune system
✓ Follow good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing every day, and visiting your dentist on a regular basis.
✓ Clean dentures on a daily basis and remove them before going to bed
✓ Manage your blood sugar levels
✓ If a yeast infection on another part of your body is present, seek immediate treatment. An infection can spread from one part of your body to another.
Thrush in infants is usually not harmful. Babies, toddlers, and children with thrush often do not require treatment. However, it is still best to keep pacifiers and bottle nipples clean and sterilized to avoid infection. For children who have a prolonged infection for more than a few weeks, an antifungal nystatin drops may be prescribed.
Antifungal medicines may be effective against thrush. If an adult patient is diagnosed with a mild case of thrush, the doctor may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash (nystatin) or lozenges (clotrimazole) for short-term use. For severe cases of thrush, stronger systemic antifungal medication may be prescribed instead.
If left untreated for a very long period of time, oral thrush can also lead to burning mouth syndrome. Painful burning sensation, soreness, mouth dryness, mouth tingling or numbness, and an abnormal bitter or metallic taste in the mouth may be experienced under this condition.
In severe cases of thrush, the esophagus may also be involved causing pain with swallowing. For people who have weakened immune systems such as cancer or HIV/AIDS patients, the Candida fungus can also spread to other parts of the body and cause a systemic infection.
If a person has signs or symptoms of thrush and further develops fever, chills, or difficulty swallowing, contact a doctor immediately.