Oral Thrush: Here’s How to Detect Treat and Prevent It

Unlike most types of conditions that affect us humans, which are a direct result of something, yeast infections are a natural response of the body when something else is out of balance, or in other words, an indirect result of something. However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be hard to get rid of and a nuisance. 

Oral thrush is one such yeast infections that can cause discomfort. This condition comes in the form of a white rash inside one’s mouth and it’s caused by the candida fungus (yeast). Except for the inside of the mouth, it can also affect other parts of the body. For instance, in infants, it can cause diaper rash. In women, on the other hand, it can cause a vaginal yeast infection.

Although it is possible for anyone to get thrush, it is most often babies, toddlers, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems in general who suffer from it.

What Can Cause This Condition?

It’s a commonly known fact that small amounts of the candida fungus are always present in one’s mouth, digestive tract and skin. This natural order of things is not to be feared as there are other bacteria in the body that keep the fungus in check. However, there are certain illnesses or types of medications (corticosteroids and antibiotics) that mess up the balance. This can result in uncontrolled fungus growth and consequently – oral thrush. All of this can be caused by stress, weakened immune system, uncontrolled diabetes, HIV infection, cancer and some other conditions.

How Can You Know If You Have It? 

If there’s an overgrowth of fungus in your mouth, you will notice white, slightly raised areas on your tongue, inner cheeks, the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils or even at the back of the throat. The white area resembles cottage cheese. Sometimes, this infection can cause pain and even bleeding when scraping the tongue or brushing the teeth. The fungus can even spread to your esophagus and cause pain when you swallow or fever. The fungus can sometimes spread to other parts of the body (lungs, liver, and skin) but this usually happens in people with cancer, HIV, or simply conditions that weaken the immune system at a large scale.

What’s the Next Step If You Suspect You Have Oral Thrush?

If you notice the appearance of the abovementioned white area in your mouth, you should go to your dentist or doctor who can probably confirm your suspicion by taking a look inside your mouth. They might also want to send a tiny sample of the spot to a lab in order to be 100% sure. If the fungus has spread to the esophagus, you’ll need to do other tests such as throat culture, endoscopy of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and to get an X-ray of your esophagus.

How Can It be Treated?

This condition is easy to treat when healthy children and adults are in question. But when it comes to people with weak immune systems, it’s a different story and the symptoms themselves are much more severe. Regardless of the severity, what any doctor will do first is prescribe antifungal medications that you’ll need to take for 10 to 14 days. These can be in the form of tablets, lozenges or liquids. However, due to the fact that the infection can be a symptom of other medical problems, depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may also want to run other tests.

How to Prevent Oral Thrush?

Stick to proper good oral hygiene routine which includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. Don’t skip your dental checkups and this is paramount if you have diabetes or wear dentures. Get your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist every 6 months, regardless of your overall health condition. Treat chronic health issues with diligence. Refrain from overusing mouthwashes or sprays as not to upset the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth.

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