Background to Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is the name given to yeast infection of the mouth and throat. All yeast infections are caused when Candida bacteria are able to multiply unchecked. When this happens the bacteria can cause localised or systemic infections in various parts of the body.
Candida bacteria are normally present in the human body just like many other bacteria and they are needed to keep other unhealthy bacteria under control. However, under certain conditions, the Candida in our gastrointestinal tract can multiply out of control and can then change from a yeast form into a fungal form which can produce roots-like structures and penetrate the walls of our intestines. This can allow yeast, bacteria and partially digested food to get into the blood stream and this is how the infection can find its way to different parts of the body. Localised infections including thrush can then follow.
What Allows the Candida to Multiply?
The Candida bacteria are normally kept under control as part of our healthy internal equilibrium by friendly pro-biotic bacteria. It is when the normal equilibrium is disrupted that Candida overgrowth can occur. This can happen in a number of situations:
– Antibiotics may be prescribed to deal with a particular medical condition. It is often the case, however, that the antibiotics can kill the friendly pro-biotic bacteria as well as the unhealthy bacteria that they were intended to treat.
– Hormonal changes during the monthly cycle or as a result of pregnancy can upset the natural internal balance.
– An elevated blood sugar level due to badly controlled or uncontrolled diabetes can cause the Candida to multiply. yeast love to feed on sugar.
– If our immune system is weakened or damaged due to recent illness or something more sinister such as HIV our bodies can struggle to maintain the normal internal balance.
– Higher than normal levels of stress can be a factor in weakening our immune system.
– A poor diet including too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white pasta with not enough fruit and vegetables can cause increased blood sugar levels which the yeast will feed on. A poor diet will also not provide the essential vitamins and nutrients that our immune system needs in order to function properly.
What Is Oral Thrush?
Candida yeast is normally present in the mouth but without causing any unpleasant symptoms as long as a normal healthy balance is maintained. Unfortunately, as described above, under certain conditions the yeast can multiply and become a nasty unpleasant infection.
Oral thrush can develop quite suddenly and without much warning and, like all types of yeast infection, can be very persistent if not treated quickly and comprehensively. If the symptoms are not dealt with quickly, thrush can spread down the throat to the oesophagus and potentially, in extreme cases, to the skins and lungs.
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
Oral thrush can begin with a sore, burning sensation in the mouth and throat and can then produce thick creamy white lacy patches on top of a red base. This typically forms on the tongue and/or inside the cheeks and perhaps on the roof of the mouth, on the gums or the back of the throat.
Eating, swallowing and brushing of the teeth can become very painful and it can feel as if something is continually stuck in the throat.
Children who suddenly lose their appetites for no apparent reason could be victims of oral thrush.
Why We Should Start Treatment ASAP
The key message here is that if a person has the symptoms of oral thrush it is very possible, in fact very likely, that they have started to develop an overgrowth of Candida in their gastrointestinal tract.
I would therefore advise that a full program of treatment should be started without delay so as to avoid the possibility of the infection becoming systemic and causing problems in various other parts of the body.
How to Treat All Types of Yeast Infection
The general advice on treatment is the same for all types of yeast infection, including oral thrush. There are various over-the-counter treatments available to get relief from the symptoms. It is very important, however that action is taken to restore the correct internal balance so that the condition does not return or worse become systemic.
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