Oral thrush is otherwise known as oral Candidiasis. It is a yeast infection involving the mouth, palate and tongue areas. In more severe cases the infection may involve the throat and can sometimes spread further down to the oesophagus.
Oral thrush symptoms show as thick, white patches on the skin and the under-surface is red and inflamed. In a baby, these patches sometimes look like milk curds but can not be wiped away as easily as milk can.
Oral thrush is often painful and the sufferer may find it difficult to eat, swallow or suck. One negative side affect of this is that the patient may become dehydrated and need hospitalisation to re-establish their fluid levels. This is particularly problematic in the very old and the very young.
If a person with thrush has problems swallowing and / develops chest pain. An oesophageal infection may have developed. This is a rare but serious condition and systemic anti-fungal medications are necessary for treatment. These are usually prescribed and supervised by a doctor.
Oral thrush can occur quite frequently in babies. In addition to the distinctive lesions, infants can become irritable and may have trouble feeding. Treatment is NOT always necessary as it can get better on its own within a couple of weeks. However it is important to seek advice from your doctor or midwife if baby is not feeding well.
Oral thrush in babies can be passed during breast-feeding to and from the breast and the infant's mouth repeatedly, so if intervention is needed it is recommended that both mum and baby are treated with the prescribed medications or natural remedies. Make sure that the products you use are safe for baby.
In adults oral thrush will develop if the immune system is weakened by
– Being in poor health
– Being very old
– Taking steroids
– Taking antibiotics over a long time
– If you are diabetic in poor control and your blood sugars are too high
– Being on immune suppressant drugs or chemotherapy
– Having HIV or AIDS
– Having poorly fitting dentures
– May be transmitted during oral sex with an infected partner
Oral thrush is most often caused by a yeast called Candida albicans which lives normally in the mouth and other parts of the body as part of the normal flora in 80-90% of the population. The overgrowth of yeast is usually kept in check by your immune system and other types of normal flora that also normally live in the mouth. Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen and infection occurs when conditions become favourable for the yeast to overgrow and cause signs of infection.
The diagnosis of oral thrush is most often based on clinical symptoms which look very typical. If the diagnosis is not clear the doctor or midwife may take a swab and send it to the laboratory for examination under the microscope and for culture onto specific agars. An endoscopy may be required to confirm oesphageal infections, particularly if the patient is unable to swallow.
The drugs used to treat an oral yeast infection (oral Candidiasis) come as topical treatments available as mouth rinses or lozenges. Probiotics made up of Saccharomyces are one of the recommended natural products to treat oral thrush. As mentioned before, systemic drugs are needed to treat oesphageal yeast infection.
Oral thrush is a relatively common form of yeast infection in both adults and babies. It may go away without treatment or it may progress in some circumstances to the more severe oesophageal form. If you have the right information you can prevent oral thrush and treat the symptoms. Understanding what causes yeast infections and how to cure them using both medical preparations and natural products is the key to controlling this embarrassing disease.