Oral thrush is a fungal infection in the mouth caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Manifesting as white, sometimes painful lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks, this condition can spread to other mouth areas and even the esophagus in severe cases. While it's prevalent among babies and those with compromised immune systems, it can affect anyone.
Creamy white spots on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, or tonsils.
A texture resembling cottage cheese.
Discomfort or pain.
Potential bleeding upon scraping.
Dry, cracked skin at the mouth's corners (common in denture wearers).
Altered taste or a cottony sensation.
For severe cases, difficulty swallowing due to spread to the esophagus.
In severe cases, the lesions may spread downward into your esophagus — the long, muscular tube stretching from the back of your mouth to your stomach (Candida esophagitis). If this occurs, you may experience difficulty swallowing or feel as if food is getting stuck in your throat.
In addition to the distinctive white mouth lesions, infants may have trouble feeding or be fussy and irritable. They can pass the infection to their mothers during breast-feeding. The infection may then pass back and forth between mother's breasts and baby's mouth. Women whose breasts are infected with candida may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Unusually red, sensitive or itchy nipples
- Shiny or flaky skin on the darker, circular area around the nipple (areola)
- Unusual pain during nursing or painful nipples between feedings
- Stabbing pains deep within the breast
Candida is usually kept in check by our immune system and other bacteria in our body. But factors like a weakened immune system, certain medications, or health conditions can disrupt this balance, leading to an outbreak.
People with HIV/AIDS, cancer, untreated or poorly managed diabetes, or those who've had vaginal yeast infections may be at higher risk.
Weak immune system.
Underlying health issues, such as diabetes.
Certain medications, especially antibiotics or corticosteroids.
Chemotherapy or radiation for cancer.
Conditions causing dry mouth or smoking.
For those with a compromised immune system, thrush can be a bigger concern. It can spread more widely, make eating difficult, and impact nutrient absorption.
A simple visual check can often diagnose oral thrush. However, if there's a risk it's spread to the esophagus, a throat culture or endoscopic examination might be necessary.
For Babies & Nursing Mothers: Antifungal medication can be prescribed for both. It's also essential to clean and sterilize feeding equipment.
For Healthy Adults & Children: Eating unsweetened yogurt or taking acidophilus can help rebalance mouth flora. Persistent infections may require antifungal medication.
For Those With Weak Immune Systems: Antifungal medications or, in resistant cases, Amphotericin B might be administered.
Maintain good oral hygiene.
Try warm saltwater rinses.
For nursing mothers, use breathable nursing pads.
Rinse your mouth if using corticosteroid inhalers.
Consume fresh-culture yogurt when on antibiotics.
Address vaginal yeast infections promptly during pregnancy.
Regular dental check-ups are crucial.
Reduce intake of foods rich in sugar and yeast.