Thrush is an infection of the mouth. It is caused by Candida albicans which is a fungus. Candida infection can also occur in other places causing infant diaper rash or vaginal yeast infections. Thrush is mostly found in babies, toddlers, older people or people wit a weak immune system.
Causes of Thrush
Candida fungi in small amounts occur naturally in a normal healthy body. Their habitat is the mouth, digestive tract and the skin. Bacteria and other microorganisms help balance the growth of the fungi in the body. Using some medications and certain illnesses can cause the balance to be disturbed thus causing an overgrowth and results in infection or thrush. Medications like corticosteroids, antibiotics and birth control upset the balance of the microorganisms. Conditions like diabetes, HIV infection, cancer, dry mouth or pregnancy can upset the balance of microorganisms. People who smoke or wear ill-fitting dentures are also at risk. Breast fed babies have also been known to pass the infection during their feedings.
Thrush can be mild and cause no symptoms at all. If symptoms do develop they will look like this:
Symptoms of Thrush
· White patches inside the mouth and tongue that look like cottage cheese or milk curds. It is sometime mistaken for milk or formula, but it can not be wiped off easily and will tend to bleed.
· Sore mouth or tongue often accompanied by swallowing difficulty.
· A poor appetite from sore mouth or throat. Infant may act fussy and refuse to eat. Sometimes mistaken for lack of hunger or poor milk supply.
· A diaper rash may occur because the fungus could be the baby’s stool.
· At the start of the thrush infection some have complained of a burning feeling in the mouth or throat.
· White patches that are attached to the mouth and tongue that could be red, raw and painful. These patches may bleed easily when rubbed even when doing something simple like brushing teeth.
· Hard to taste foods and also a bad taste in the mouth. Many feel like there is cotton in the mouth.
· Sore, red nipples in a mother that is breast feeding. Burning pain in nipples might occur as well during and after feedings. The baby may or may not show any symptoms of thrush.
Going to the dentist will help determine if there is an infection. The dentist will look for distinct white lesions on the mouth, tongue and cheek. Examining a small tissue from the legion will help determine if there is an infection present. Thrush could also extend into the esophagus so that would require a swab test to take a throat culture, and an endoscopy of the esophagus, stomach lining and small intestine or taking x-rays of the esophagus. An endoscopy is when the lining of the body area chosen is examined with a lighted camera mounted on the tip of a tube.
People with a weak immune system have a more difficult journey in trying to combat the symptoms of thrush. Healthy children and adults can be treated effectively. Usually an antifungal medication is prescribed for 10 to 14 days. The medication can be in the form of tablets, lozenges or liquid. The treatment approach will be specific based on age and cause of infection. If a dentist diagnosed the thrush, they may recommend going to a doctor because the presence of Candida infection can be an underlying symptom for other illnesses that may have to be treated.
These things can be done to help minimize the chances of getting thrush:
1. Have good oral hygiene practices. Brushing teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day can help stop yeast overgrowth.
2. Try not to use mouthwashes or sprays. These products could upset the balance of the microorganisms in the mouth.
3. Go to the dentist regularly. This practice is a must for those who wear dentures or have diabetes.
4. Try not to eat a lot of sugar and yeast containing foods. Foods like bread, beer and wine help stimulate Candida growth.
5. Stop smoking if you smoke. Doctors and dentists help with ways to kick the habit.