Oral Thrush: Thrush Symptoms and Thrush Treatment
Oral thrush is a common mouth infection that affects people of all ages. Caused by an overgrowth of the fungus, Candida Albicans, thrush causes painful lesions to form inside the mouth. When severe, this fungus can spread down the esophagus, making chewing and swallowing very painful. Thrush is most common amongst infants and toddlers, however, it can also occur in adults, particularly the elderly. Effective thrush treatment is available by prescription from your health care provider.
What Causes Thrush?
Thrush infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the candida bacteria in your mouth. Usually, the immune system works to maintain a balance between good and bad bacteria in your body. When the immune system becomes compromised though, bad bacteria begin to grow out of control, resulting in illness. Your immune system can become compromised due to illnesses (like colds and flus), chronic diseases (like HIV, diabetes, and cancer), and certain medications (like antibiotics). Thrush commonly occurs when the body’s immune system becomes weakened.
Who’s At Risk for Thrush?
Thrush is most common in infants and toddlers, because their immune systems haven’t yet had the chance to develop and fight off all infections. As a result, thrush is also common amongst breast-feeding mothers; infants can pass the thrush infection to their mother when coming into contact with her nipples. Thrush is also common amongst those with compromised immune systems, including those with serious illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDs. Additional risk factors include:
- wearing dentures
- being elderly
- being a smoker
- taking immune-compromising drugs (including steroids, antibiotics, and the birth control pill)
Thrush symptoms are usually easy to spot and include:
- white or yellow spots in the mouth, particularly on the tongue and the inside of the cheeks
- raised spots in the mouth
- spots that bleed and become sore if scraped
- a burning sensation in the throat
- difficulty chewing and swallowing
When severe, thrush can spread into your throat and down the esophagus. Known as Candida Esophagitus, this condition can make it especially difficult to chew and swallow, and can increase your risk for malnutrition and further illness.
It is essential to get treatment for thrush if you have any signs of the illness. Oral thrush can persist for months, becoming extremely painful. Your health care provider can prescribe medicated treatments to help restore the balance of candida in your body. Prescription treatment generally involves taking a course of oral antifungal tablets, which should be held in the mouth and sucked until they dissolve. This helps to stop the thrush infection. Natural thrush treatment often includes natural yogurt. The active bacteria in yogurt can help to restore the natural balance of bacteria in your mouth. Simply add yogurt products to your regular diet.