Yeast is a tiny, microscopic fungus that's all around you, on you, and even in you. For the most part, it does more good than bad. It's an important ingredient in bread and beer, for example. And in low amounts, it exists harmoniously with other microorganisms in your body, mouth, and throat. Infections only occur when something causes the yeast somewhere in your body to multiply. If you think you have a yeast infection in your mouth or throat, we'll let you know what may have caused it, symptoms you should look for, and what you can expect from diagnosis and treatment when you visit your dental or health professional.
Yeast Infection In Your Throat: Everything You Need To Know
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
What Is a Yeast Infection?
If you have a yeast infection in your throat (also called oral thrush or oropharyngeal candidiasis), something has changed the balance of microorganisms in your oral cavity for the yeast to begin growing at an abnormal rate. This can happen if you have a weakened immune system, you're taking antibiotics that have changed the balance of microbes in your mouth, or for other reasons that we'll get into below.
Symptoms of an Oral Yeast Infection
If you have oral thrush, you may have:
- White spots in your mouth
- Lesions on your tongue or the roof of your mouth
- White mucus (candida mucus)
- Cracking and redness at the corners of your mouth
- A smooth, red area in the center of the tongue
- A tickly cough
According to the American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, an oral yeast infection can cause a burning or itching sensation in your mouth, too. However, they also point out that you can have oral thrush and not have any symptoms at all.
Risk Factors for Yeast Infections in the Throat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites the following people as being at higher risk for developing oral thrush:
- Babies (especially younger than 1-month-old)
- People who wear dentures
- Cancer patients
- People living with HIV/AIDS (about 1/3 of patients with advanced HIV develop oral thrush according to the CDC)
- People who take antibiotics or corticosteroids, including inhaled corticosteroids for conditions like asthma
- People who take medications that cause dry mouth or have medical conditions that cause dry mouth
- And smokers
Diagnosing the Infection
If you or someone you know has symptoms of a yeast infection in the throat or mouth, the best thing you can do is make an appointment to see your doctor. They are best positioned to diagnose your condition by evaluating the symptoms in your mouth, and if they think you may have a yeast infection in your throat, they'll likely take a throat culture.
Treatment for Oral Thrush
Suppose you have a yeast infection in your mouth or throat. In that case, your medical professional will likely address the health condition that led to the fungal overgrowth and prescribe an antifungal medication. These medications can come in the form of capsules, a mouthrinse, or even throat lozenges. If the first treatment isn't effective, they may prescribe stronger antifungal medications with a higher risk of side effects.
Preventing Future Infections
To help prevent future yeast infections in your mouth, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following:
- Rinse your mouth If you take medication or use an inhaler, rinse your mouth out after.
- Practice good oral hygiene This includes visiting your dental professional for regular checkups. We have more tips on practicing good oral hygiene below.
- Practice good denture care If you wear dentures, remove them at night, clean them daily, and visit your dental professional for regular checkups.
- Exercise and eat a well-balanced diet The better you take care of yourself, the better your body will be protected from infection. Eat nutritious foods and limit sugars that can cause yeast to grow.
- Manage your diabetes well If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar can limit the amount of sugar in your saliva. Sugars in your mouth can cause yeast to grow.
- Treat vaginal yeast infections If you are experiencing symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection, treat it right away.
- Treat dry mouth Learn about 10 home remedies for dry mouth.
Suppose you have a yeast infection in your mouth or throat. In that case, your medical professional is best positioned to diagnose you and provide you with treatment tailored to your specific needs. The good news is that in most cases, oral thrush is manageable. Suppose you have a more serious condition that has led to your oral thrush. In that case, we send you an abundance and love and support in your journey to recovery from whatever is ailing you. You can get through this!
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.