All You Need to Know About Oral Thrush

All You Need to Know About Oral Thrush

We know by now that we need to eat the right foods, need to work out, and do stuff that is healthy for us. Because maintaining good health does not happen by accident, it requires work and smart lifestyle choices. But sometimes when we wake up at 6 am to hit the gym before work or shunning the donuts in breakfast, it’s easy to lose sight of for what are we doing all these. So here are some top articles choices that can keep you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep diseases at bay.

All You Need to Know About Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is candidiasis of oral cavity (oral candidiasis) and caused by fungus candida albicans. Oral candidiasis is infection of oral mucosal lining by candida albicans. Candida is a normal commensal organism in mouth, however sometime the fungus overgrows in mouth and cause oral thrush and its symptoms. The disease appear as creamy white layer over lining of mouth in tongue, inner cheeks, roof of mouth, gums, tonsils and throat, and rarely even into the esophagus.

Oral thrush can occur to anyone. However, babies, elderly people and individuals with weak immune system (e.g. HIV/AIDS infected persons or persons receiving immune suppressant drugs etc.) are more prone to develop oral thrush. In healthy people oral thrush is not a big issue. However, if you have weak immune system (for any reason) you need to be careful if you have oral thrush and get adequately treated.

What are the symptoms of oral thrush?

Most people may not even notice that they have oral thrush. However, most people have these symptoms:

  • Creamy white lesion over the lining of mouth in places such as tongue, inner cheeks, roof of mouth, gums, tonsils and throat.
  • Lesions are usually of cotton-cheese appearance with slightly raised from surface.
  • Soreness may be present it may be severe enough to make swallowing or eating food difficult and painful. Sometimes the lesion may reach up to esophagus and swallowing may be very painful and difficult in such situation.
  • There may be slight bleeding when lesions are rubbed
  • Loss of taste
  • You may feel cottony feeling inside your mouth.
  • Angles or corners of mouth may be red
  • If infants suffer from oral thrush they may be irritable, fussy and there is difficulty in feeding.
  • Infants may pass the infection to mothers’ breast and breastfeeding mother may have symptoms such as red, sensitive, itchy and cracked nipple. Breastfeeding may be painful. Areola may be shiny or flaky. Infection may be passed from mother’s breast to infant too.

What are the risk factors of developing oral thrush?

Normally various parts of our body have helpful good microorganisms (commensals), such as skin, intestine, oral cavity, vagina etc. These helpful good organisms help in keeping a balance of good and bad microorganisms (pathogenic organisms). However in certain cases this balance may be disturbed and lead to various infections such as oral thrush. The following conditions make a person at risk of developing oral thrush:

  • Diabetes: if you are diabetic and your blood sugar is not well controlled, you are at greater risk of developing oral thrush. If your blood sugar is not well controlled, your saliva may have high sugar content which encourages growth of candida and other organisms.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV infection or AIDS make immune system weak that makes the sufferer prone to opportunistic infections, including oral thrush. Recurrence of oral thrush is an indication of weak immune system, including HIV infection.
  • Cancer: if you have cancer, your immune system is most likely weak too and at greater risk of infection including oral thrush. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy also increases risk of oral thrush and other infections.
  • Vaginal yeast infection: this is caused by same fungus/yeast candida albicans. This may not be a serious problem; however a pregnant woman may transmit the disease to newborn as oral thrush.
  • Infants and elderly individuals are at greater risk of developing oral thrush.
  • People wearing dentures are at greater risk of oral thrush.
  • People using regular inhaled drugs such as for asthma (inhaled glucocorticoids) are at risk of oral thrush, if precautions are not taken.

Diagnosis of oral thrush:

Oral thrush can be easily diagnosed by simply giving a careful look at the oral lesion. However, sometimes your doctor may ask for a microscopic examination of samples taken from lesions, to confirm diagnosis. Your doctor may also ask for various tests to find out the underlying cause of oral thrush, because in young adults without any identifiable risk factor, oral thrush may be due to some underlying serious medical condition. Oral thrush may extend up to esophagus and in such case your doctor may ask for throat culture and endoscopic examination of esophagus to have a direct look at the lining of esophagus.

Treatment of oral thrush:

Along with treatment for oral thrush, the underlying condition also should be treated properly. The treatment is mostly based on the underlying cause of the problem, overall general health and age of the patient.

  • Healthy children and adults: for healthy persons the treatment for oral thrush is a suitable antifungal medication effective against candida.
  • Persons with weak immune system: treatment is antifungal medication. However, patients with HIV/AIDS and other immune system problem may show resistance to commonly used antifungal medications and change in antifungal medication may be necessary.
  • For breastfeeding mothers and breastfeeding infants: for breastfeeding mother antifungal cream may be used and mild antifungal for the infant. Treatment of both at the same time is required to prevent cross infection from infant to mother and mother to infant. Keep breast clean and dry and breast pump if possible.

Prevention of oral thrush:

These measures can help prevent oral thrush,

  • If you are using inhaled glucocorticoid medication for asthma, keep in mind to rinse mouth properly after using the medication and also brush teeth if possible.
  • If you are using dentures, keep your denture clean and clean and disinfect daily.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and floss at least once a day. Replace your tooth brush frequently.
  • Avoid using antiseptic mouthwash, unless your dentist recommend. Because, it may destroy helpful bacteria in mouth and make environment better for fungal growth.
  • If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar under strict control.
  • Treat vaginal yeast infection, if you have
  • Use nursing pads if you are breastfeeding and your baby is suffering from oral thrush. This will help prevent spread of fungus to your cloths.
  • Control consuming sugar and yeast containing foods as these may encourage growth of candida.
  • Visit your dentists at least twice a year for dental check.
  • Practice good oral hygiene, as advised by your dentist.
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