What is Thrush (Oropharyngeal Candidiasis)

Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a pathological health condition in which a yeast-type of fungus referred to as Candida albicans grows within the throat and mouth.
Thrush may form for a variety of circumstances, including pregnancy, illness, smoking, medications, or dentures.

Thrush in infants and newborns is a relatively common and ordinarily not harmful.
Risk factors for thrush encompass impaired immune systems, medications, smoking, or stress.

Signs and symptoms of thrush include
white spots in the mouth, palate, inner cheeks, throat, and tongue, as well as soreness and mouth pain.

Thrush is typically diagnosed by clinical examination by a physician or dentist.
Treatment for thrush depends on the severity and the cause and can include simple home remedies, oral medications, or systemic medications.
The prognosis for mild cases of thrush is good. The outlook for severe cases depends on the underlying cause and the status of the patient’s immune system.
Preventing thrush in most cases by risk factor modification is possible.

Thrush Symptoms and Signs
White Tongue
Whitening of the top layer of the tongue or the presence of white spots or patches on the tongue can also be seen with infection, irritation, or chronic inflammation of the surface of the tongue. Certain oral infections, notably Candida yeast infections (known as oral thrush), are characterized by a white tongue.

Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a medical condition in which a yeast-shaped fungus called Candida (the older and less often used name for Candida is Monilia) overgrows in the mouth and throat. Candida is usually present in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. The immune system and the body’s healthy bacteria generally keep Candida in balance. When this balance is interrupted, it can result in an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, causing thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth or throat.

Thrush infection is not the same as a vaginal yeast infection (also called moniliasis). However, the Candida fungus also causes diaper rash, but diaper rash occurs on a child’s rear end, genitals, and inner thighs, while oral thrush occurs in the mouth and throat. Adults may get yeast infections in areas of overlapping skin, such as underneath breasts or in skin folds like creases in the skin due to fatty tissue.

What causes thrush?
An overgrowth of the Candida species of fungus in the mouth or throat is what causes thrush. This overgrowth may be triggered to occur when the person experiences changes such as illness, pregnancy, new medications, or changes in the immune system.

Thrush in infants and newborns is relatively common and is only a concern if it causes poor feeding or is associated with weight loss or other symptoms of systemic illness. You should see your pediatrician if thrush in an infant lasts more than a couple of weeks.

A man stands in front of a medicine cabinet containing antibiotics, corticosteroids, and dentures; a sick woman lies in the hospital bed, and a pregnant woman exhibits signs of illness.

What are risk issues for thrush?
Healthy adults usually do not get thrush without exhibiting some risk factors. Patients with reduced immune systems are at higher risk for getting fungal diseases such as thrush. Risk factors linked with thrush include the following:

  • Illnesses, including poorly controlled diabetes, HIV/AIDS infection, cancer, and dry mouth
  • Pregnancy
  • Taking medications such as corticosteroids, radiation, antibiotics, chemotherapy or other cancer drugs, and birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Having an organ transplant
  • Stress
  • Poorly fitting dentures

Is oral thrush contagious?
Overall, thrush (or candidiasis) is not contagious. But, a nursing infant with thrush may transfer it to the mother’s breast by touch.

Technically, oral thrush could spread through kissing or oral sex, although this is rare. Thrush is an opportunistic infection, and its development depends on the strength of your immune system.

What are thrush symptoms and signs?
Thrush is designated by a white coating or white patches on the tongue, mouth, inner cheeks, and the back of the throat. The tissue under the white spots is often red, raw, and sore. The lesions can be painful and even bleed when scraped. Oral thrush often appears like cottage cheese or milk curds. Some common symptoms and signs of thrush are as follows:

  • Redness under the white patches
  • Characteristic white patches
  • White tongue
  • Dry mouth
  • Splitting at the outer edges of the lips (cheilosis)
  • Feeling of food stuck in the throat or a sore throat
  • Soreness in teeth
  • Strange or unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Oral thrush can also lead to a condition called stinging mouth syndrome, which can have symptoms of a painful burning sensation, mouth dryness, soreness, tingling or numbness throughout the mouth and tongue, and sometimes an unusual bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.

In severe cases of thrush, the esophagus, which leads down to the stomach, may also be involved. This will cause pain in swallowing. If someone has an impaired immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, etc.), the Candida fungus can grow to other components of the body and cause a systemic infection. If someone has signs or symptoms of thrush and produces a fever, shaking or chills, or difficulty swallowing, contact a doctor immediately.

How do Doctors diagnose thrush?
Candidiasis is clinically diagnosed by a doctor or dentist when the characteristic-looking white patches are located in the mouth or throat.

To confirm the diagnosis, or if there is a question about whether the white patches are caused by the Candida fungus, a scraping may be done. The doctor or dentist can scrape off a small amount of the white matter from the mouth or throat and look at it under a microscope and view the characteristic yeast-shaped fungi.

Thrush located farther down the throat or in the esophagus is usually found by doing a procedure called an endoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor passes a small camera through the back of the throat into the esophagus and into the stomach to observe the tissue and take samples. If the white lesions are found, they may be biopsied or scraped to confirm the diagnosis of thrush. This procedure is usually performed by a gastroenterologist.

A baby is given antifungal drops to treat thrush.
What is the treatment for thrush?
Treatment of thrush depends on the cause and severity of the infection.

If thrush is caused by something reversible, such as taking antibiotics, smoking, ill-fitting dentures, or poorly controlled diabetes, these factors must be corrected as part of the treatment.

Infants, toddlers, and children with thrush often do not require treatment. In children who have thrush for more than a few weeks, a child’s pediatrician may prescribe antifungal nystatin (Mycostatin, Nilstat, Nystex) drops.

Antifungal medicines may be used to treat thrush. If an adult patient is diagnosed with a mild case of thrush, the physician may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash lozenges (clotrimazole [Mycelex]) or (nystatin) for short-term use. Miconazole buccal (Oravig) is an antifungal medication that consists of a tablet placed in the upper gum region and dissolved in the mouth to get rid of thrush.

For more severe cases of thrush or if someone has other reasons for a weakened immune system, he or she may need stronger systemic antifungal medicines, such as itraconazole (Sporanox) or fluconazole (Diflucan). These medicines usually work better than ketoconazole (Nizoral). For severe or resistant thrush, amphotericin B may be prescribed.

Are there home remedies for thrush?
Home remedies for candidiasis are aimed at decreasing risk factors for thrush as well as preventing overgrowth of Candida yeast.

  • Rinse the mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • Rinse the mouth with warm salt water.
  • Brush the teeth with a soft toothbrush.
  • Avoid mouthwash as it can alter the natural flora of the mouth.
  • Eat unsweetened yogurt while taking antibiotics.
  • Keep dentures clean and see a dentist if they do not respond correctly.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements can help sustain a healthy balance of Candida.

Home solutions may decrease the discomfort of thrush include

  • Drinking cold liquids, or eating frozen or ice treats;
  • Eating soft, easy-to-swallow foods; and
  • Drinking from a straw if the patches are painful.
  • Gentian violet (1%) is an over-the-counter natural treatment that occasionally works as a home treatment for thrush. It is a dye that destroys
  • Bacteria and fungi, and it is possible without a prescription. Speak to a physician before using gentian violet.

Grapefruit seed extract is occasionally employed by nursing mothers who have contracted thrush of the nipples. It can be implemented topically (on the skin) or taken orally.

Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties that may assist in controlling Candida in the body. Mix 8 oz. water into one tablespoon and drink daily.

Baking soda can also help eliminate the yeast that produces the infection and maintain healthy pH levels in the mouth. Mix 1-2 tablespoons baking soda with water till it creates a paste. Utilize the paste with a cotton ball onto the inner cheeks and tongue. Allow it to rest for a few minutes, then clean with warm water. Repeat for several days, at least three times a day Alternately, mix ½ teaspoon baking soda into a glassful of water and use as a mouth rinse twice daily.

Raw virgin coconut oil has antifungal properties. Nursing mothers sometimes use it on their breasts and the baby’s mouth to prevent the spread of thrush.

Methylene blue oral is an antiseptic that is proclaimed to help relieve oral candidiasis. Consult a physician before using the aforementioned or any supplement.

What types of Physicians treat oral thrush?
A primary care provider (PCP) such as an internist, family practitioner, or child’s pediatrician may diagnose and prescribe oral thrush. Oral thrush may also be managed by a dentist. Severe infections generally expect consultation with an immunologist and an infectious-disease expert.

What is the outcome of thrush?
The diagnosis of candidiasis and the extent it will last depends on the severity of the disease and the standing of the immune system of the patient.

Mild cases of thrush created by some of the reversible risk factors are frequently easily treated, and the prognosis is good. Once you have commenced treatment for oral thrush, symptoms usually go away in approximately two weeks. In some cases, thrush will last for weeks even with treatment. Recurrent thrush can happen if thrush is not treated correctly in the first place.

Thrush in infants and children is rarely dangerous or life-threatening and often goes away on its own without any requirement for medical treatment. If a child’s thrush does not progress within two weeks, consider going to a child’s pediatrician.

Patients with crippled immune systems are at higher risk for harsh and life-threatening complications. These patients can grow critically ill or die from severe Candida infections. Candida can circulate throughout the body to other organs and can cause significant dysfunction. Systemic antifungal treatment in the interest of long-term hospitalization can be necessary.

Is it possible to stop thrush?
Thrush can be quickly checked in healthy adults by changing risk factors that contribute to Candida fungus overgrowth.

Risk factor adjustments for prevention of candidiasis incorporate the following:

  • Brush and floss teeth and gums routinely, and keep proper oral hygiene.
  • Consult a dentist regularly.
  • Ensure dentures are clean, properly managed, and fit well.
  • Keep diabetes under control.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet with low sugar levels and yeast.
  • Limit use of antibiotics. Only use as prescribed by a physician.
  • Chlorhexidine (Peridex, Hibiclens) mouthwash may be prescribed to prevent thrush in individuals who take immunosuppressant medications.
    To stop thrush in nursing infants or babies, keep pacifiers and bottle nipples clean and cleaned. Nursing mothers should discuss the use of any over-the-counter or prescribed medications with their doctor before breastfeeding as some medications may increase the risk of causing thrush.