What Is Thrush?
The human body naturally contains yeast, among other healthy bacteria. The body works to keep these bacteria balanced and in check, so that no bacteria dominates, leading to infection or illness.
Thrush is an oral yeast infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans, that causes sores to develop in the mouth. While the body contains a certain amount of bacteria all the time, microorganisms and other bacteria are usually able to keep the bacterial balance in check. However, there are several reasons that this balance may become off-kilter, resulting in Thrush.
What Causes Thrush?
Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans. There are several reasons that a person may develop thrush. They include:
- Medication changes: Corticosteroids, birth control, and antibiotics may disrupt the bacterial balance, resulting in Thrush.
- Hormonal Changes: pregnancy, or other hormonal changes.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing Thrush.
- Dentures: Wearing lose or ill-fitting dentures increases the risk of developing Thrush.
What Are The Symptoms Of Thrush?
The symptoms of Thrush may be sudden in appearance, and may become chronic if not treated well. The primary symptom of Thrush the development of raised white sores in the mouth. These sores are raised and may have a "cottage cheese-like" appearance. Thrush sores typically occur on the tongue and inner portion of the cheek. However, Thrush sores may also appear in other areas of the mouth such as the roof, gums, or tonsils.
Other related symptoms may include:
- Bleeding sores
- Mouth pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lump in the throat feeling
- Fever (indicating infection)
Thrush potentially could spread to other parts of the body if not treated or treated adequately. This includes spreading to the esophagus, lungs, liver, or skin. Often this occurrence happens with other conditions such as diabetes or HIV, because of the suppressed immune system.
How Is Thrush Diagnosed?
Thrush can be diagnosed by either a dentist or a health care professional. During an exam, a dentist will observe the white lesions in the mouth. He or she may then gently brush them, leading to the reveal of red tissue, irritated tissue, or bleeding.
Additional testing may also be conducted including a throat culture (swab of the throat), and a microscopic look at the tissue. An endoscopy, or a camera, can also view the esophagus or the stomach and intestines to assess if or how far the Thrush infection has spread.
How Is Thrush Treated?
As with most infections, Thrush is more easily treated in children than adults. Typical treatment for children and adults include anti-fungal medications.
Thrush will also often disappear on its own if left untreated. However, it is possible for the infection to spread causing pain or difficulty swallowing. Have a healthcare provider evaluate you for additional medical treatment or medication if necessary.
Thrush And Babies:
It is not uncommon for babies to develop Thrush shortly after birth. During the birth process, babies become exposed to yeast as they pass through the birth canal. This exposure can trigger an episode of Thrush.
Thrush can also be passed back and forth between baby and mother when breast-feeding. For mothers who develop Thrush in their nipples, it can be a very painful infection that requires medical attention. This infection can also trigger Thrush in your baby. Antibiotics can trigger a case of Thrush in a baby, as antibiotics kill good as well as bad bacteria.
The symptoms of Thrush in babies is similar to Thrush in adults. The sores will appear on the mouth as described. If there is solely a white coating on the baby's tongue, most likely you are seeing milk residue rather than Thrush. If you have any questions, see your healthcare provider, who can offer more information.
Thrush treatment can include anti-fungal medications, or no treatment may be necessary. Thrush often clears up on its own after a couple weeks. However, while some babies do not appear to be bothered by Thrush, others may become fussy and experience pain during nursing, bottle-feeding, or sucking on a pacifier.
Prevention of Thrush:
There are ways to prevent or reduce the likelihood of developing Thrush. They include:
- Good oral hygiene - regular flossing, brushing, and dental visits
- Avoid mouthwash or spray - the alcohol present in these products kill good bacteria as well as bad bacteria
- Regular dental visits - optimum is one visit every six months
- Limit intake of sugary or yeast foods - this includes beer, bread, and wine
- Stop smoking
Additional Resources About Thrush:
Babycenter.com - This website contains an article about Thrush and babies. Learn more information about how this infection impacts babies, the symptoms, and how it's treated.
Illli.org - This is a website dedicated to issues related to breast-feeding. Because Thrush can be passed back and forth between mother and baby, read more about Thrush here.
Kellymom.com - This website contains a comprehensive list of information, resources, and links related to Thrush.
Breastfeedingbasics.com - This website contains comprehensive information about Thrush in babies, Thrush in breast-feeding mothers, symptoms of Thrush, and how to treat Thrush.
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