Thrush: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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thrush
Simran Lakhina
A content writer with a specialization in journalism and mass communication. Being a post-graduate in English, I aspire to write a work of fiction one day. I enjoy interacting with new people and like to be in a positive aura.

What is Thrush? It is a medical condition in which a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans overgrown in the mouth, throat or skin. It is the result of multiple factors including illness, pregnancy, medication, smoking or dentures.

Not just in women, thrush is common in newborns and infants but is harmless. This yeast infection can be found in the mouth, digestive system, and skin of any healthy person. This candida fungus can cause diaper rash, genitals, inner thighs, mouth or throat.

While these are some of the major spots, it can also attack the places where skin overlaps such as the under breasts and the skin folds due to fatty tissues. 

Causes Of Thrush

Thrush is the result of an overgrowth of the candida species of fungus in the mouth or throat is what causes an oral yeast infection. In major cases, this overgrown fungus is triggered to occur when a person experiences changes such as illness, pregnancy, new medication or natural changes in the immune system. It is quite normal if your newborn develops thrush and not a major issue of concern. It is perceived to be serious if it brings along the symptoms of poor feeding or weight loss. One must pay a visit to a paediatrician if it lasts longer than a couple of weeks.

Risk Factors

An average healthy adult doesn’t get thrush without having some risk factors. People with a weak immune system are most likely to get a fungal infection. Other risk factors include:

  1. Illness including uncontrolled diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer.
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Being on antibiotics, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, cancer drugs or birth control pills. 
  4. Having an organ transplant
  5. Smoking
  6. Poorly fitted dentures
  7. Stress
thrush

Thrush Symptoms Or Signs

White coating or patches on the tongue, mouth, inner cheeks and back of the throat is the sign of thrush. It looks like cottage cheese or milk curd. The lesions might be painful and bleed when scrapped. The tissue under that white patch is red, raw and sore. Symptoms include:

  1. White patches
  2. Redness under white patches
  3. White tongue
  4. Dry mouth
  5. Sore throat
  6. Soreness in teeth
  7. Unpleasant tasting mouth
  8. Bad breath
  9. Burning mouth syndrome- this happens in severe cases. Symptoms include painful burning sensation, mouth dryness, soreness, and numbness. 

Is Thrush Contagious?

In general, It is not contagious but there are some exceptions. There is a possibility of It being transferred to a mother’s breast through her breastfeeding infant. Oral thrush can also be transmitted through kissing or oral sex but the odds are quite less. It is an opportunistic infection and its development depends on the strength of your immune system. 

Diagnosis & Treatment

Physicians tend to diagnose thrush by observing the white patch in the mouth. Scrapping may be done to ensure the presence of candida fungus. There is a chance of thrush being located down the throat in the oesophagus that is diagnosed by endoscopy.

Thrush Treatment depends upon the causes and severity of the infection. If it is the result of factors such as antibiotics, smoking, ill-fitted dentures or poorly controlled diabetes, then these factors must be corrected as a part of the treatment. Other than that, some anti fungal medications along with medicated mouthwash must be used to treatment. 

thrush treatment

Home Remedies For Thrush

Here are a few home remedies to decrease the risk factor of thrush and also prevent its overgrowth:

  1. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  2. Rinse your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. 
  3. Rinse your mouth with saltwater
  4. Avoid unprescribed mouthwash as it can alter the normal flora of the mouth. 
  5. Keep dentures clean and visit your dentist if they don’t fit properly
  6. Eat sweetened yogurt while you are on antibiotics. 
  7. Drink cold liquids, frozen yogurt or ice cream
  8. Eat soft and easy to swallow foods
  9. Drink from a straw if patches are painful

Though thrush is not a major problem so do not panic. Make sure you are able to diagnose thrush especially in infants or newborns as they can not speak. For adults, follow good oral hygiene. It is a common infection so please do not panic and meet your doctor.