Oral Thrush Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Oral Thrush Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

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.

Oral Thrush Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Oral thrush (or oral candidiasis) is a medical condition, where there is growth or accumulation of fungus candida albicans in the mouth (mucosal lining of mouth cavity). Oral candidiasis or thrush can affect anyone, but it is more common among certain individuals, such as babies, individuals wearing dentures, individuals on certain medications (immune suppressant medications or corticosteroids).

What are the symptoms of oral thrush?

The symptoms of oral thrush may appear suddenly or it may appear slowly and last long duration. Symptoms include:

  • Creamy white coating over tongue, palate, roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, inner aspect of cheeks
  • There may be minor bleeding if coating is scraped
  • Pain, loss of taste
  • Lesions may be look like cottage cheese and the feeling may be cottony

The coating or lesions may spread to esophagus, which may make swallowing difficult and painful. If oral thrush occurs among infants, feeding may become difficult as baby will be irritable.

What is the cause of oral thrush?

The causative agent for oral thrush is fungus candida albicans, which generally become aggressive when body immunity is disturbed by various factors such as certain medications (immune suppressant medications or corticosteroids, e.g. prednisolone) or natural balance of microorganism (normal flora) in the body is disturbed by prolonged use of antibiotics.

What are the risk factors of oral thrush?

There is higher risk of oral thrush, if you suffer from certain medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, vaginal yeast infection etc.


Uncontrolled diabetes is a risk factor for oral thrush. There may be presence of large amount of glucose/sugar in saliva, which makes it easier for candida to grow. The immune system of diabetics may also be subnormal.


In cancer patients, immune system is generally weak (due to cancer itself and due to various drugs used for treatment of cancer such as radiation and cancer chemotherapeutic agents), which encourages growth and multiplication of fungus, including candida.


HIV infection or AIDS lowers immunity level, which encourage various opportunistic infections including candidiasis. In fact, recurrent/repeated oral thrush may be first sign of HIV infection.

Vaginal yeast infection:

The causative agent for vaginal yeast infection and oral thrush may be same. Hence, presence of vaginal yeast infection is a risk factor for oral thrush.

Are you at risk of oral thrush?

The following individuals are at risk of oral thrush:

  • HIV/AIDS patients or weakened immune system
  • Diabetics
  • Individuals with anemia
  • Individuals with cancer
  • If you wear denture, especially if denture not fitting properly and causing repeated injury to oral mucosa or gums
  • Smokers
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics
  • Asthma patients who use inhaled glucocorticoids (e.g. fluticasone, budesonide)
  • Infants
  • Patients with dry mouth or xerostomia
  • Tongue piercing
  • Women on oral contraceptive pills or women undergoing hormonal changes (menopause)
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