Do you see white lesions on your child’s tongue? It may indicate the presence of a fungus causing Oral Thrush.
This condition is more common in children and seniors because they lack immunity.
Essentially it is a yeast infection by the fungus Candida albicans.
Hence, it is also known as oral candidiasis.
This fungus is already present in your mouth but it can be overgrown causing the infection.
However, it is not one of the severe infectious diseases. Though, it can get serious for people with weak immunity.
This article discusses the symptoms and treatment of this infection so you can treat yourself or your child timely.
Oral Thrush Symptoms
This infection develops over time.
Hence, you do not see any visible signs in the beginning even if you have them.
The most common symptom is the presence of white lesions. They resemble cottage cheese or milk curd.
They are present mostly on the tongue and the inner side of the cheek.
However, you may also find them on the roof of your mouth, tonsils and gums.
These lesions can bleed if you rub or scrap them.
Also, they can get slightly raised.
Furthermore, the corners of your mouth will crack.
You may also lose taste inside your mouth while the fungus grows.
Instead, you may get a cottony sensation.
Besides your mouth and throat may burn or swell making it difficult to swallow food.
In people with severe immunity issues, the lesions can spread to the esophagus.
Hence, it becomes very difficult for them to swallow food.
If you wear dentures then there will be pain and redness beneath them.
Moreover, if you breastfeed your child and they have this fungus then it can spread to the mother as well.
If you don’t realize it, the pattern can continue, constantly infecting both you and the baby.
You can recognize the signs and symptoms of oral thrush on your body too.
- Feeling extreme pain in your breasts
- Flaky skin around the areola (the dark area surrounding nipples)
- Feeling pain while nursing and after it
- Nipples look red and cracked
If you notice these signs, check your child too.
There are three common types of this infection:
- Pseudomembranous- this is the most common form of thrush
- Hyperplastic- this is the rarest which has a solid plaque that is difficult to remove
- Erythematous- this appears as red rather than white
So what causes these lesions to form?
Let’s find that out below!
Oral Thrush Causes
Candida albicans are naturally present inside your body.
The immune system maintains a good balance between the good bacteria, fungi, viruses and the bad ones.
It protects the body from the harm of the bad ones by maintaining their and the good microbes quantity.
Though, this balance can disrupt when the immune system weakens.
As a result, the microbes overgrow leading to an infection.
So the most common reasons behind this infection are the weakening of the immune system.
This can happen because of medications and diseases that suppress the function of the immune system.
Thus, your immunity decreases giving rise to the fungus.
Other reasons include:
Yeast Infection in the Vagina
Women can get a vaginal yeast infection from the same fungus, Candida albicans as thrush.
You can spread it to your child during pregnancy and normal delivery.
Wearing dentures and having a medical condition that leads to dry mouth can increase the risk of this infection.
Diabetes that isn’t controlled or treated will increase sugars inside the mouth.
The sugars facilitate the growth of the fungus.
Antibiotics, steroids and other medicines that tend to disrupt the natural balance of microbes inside your body can cause this infection.
This fungus is contagious and can spread from one person to another.
Therefore, if you have a yeast infection, your child can get it during delivery.
They can also get it through breastfeeding.
The fungal infection can also spread between partners.
However, having the fungus does not necessarily mean you get an oral thrush infection.
Besides, this infection isn’t serious except if you have diseases such as cancer or HIV/Aids.
The immune system is severely compromised in these conditions and the infection can spread to the esophagus and other body parts.
This can cause problems swallowing food.
Besides the causes given above you can also get this infection because of malnutrition, smoking and using mouthwash excessively.
If you suffer from malnutrition then you are susceptible to this infection.
Taking a diet that does not contain or has low Vitamin B12, iron and folic acid can increase infection.
Furthermore, if you smoke then you are more susceptible to get the infection.
Antibacterial mouthwash gets rid of the bacteria that cause plaque and bad breath.
However, they may also eliminate the good microbes that balance the Candida fungus.
Hence, using mouthwash excessively will damage your oral balance and affect your dental health.
Your doctor can easily identify the lesions inside your mouth.
If they need to check further, then they will scrape off some and check it under a microscope and later send it to a lab.
However, if they have to detect it in the esophagus then they may recommend getting a biopsy.
They take a tissue sample and then culture it in a medium to identify the type of fungus behind the infection.
Or they might conduct an endoscopic exam to clearly see through your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
Furthermore, they will ask about your symptoms, medications and medical conditions to determine the exact cause and make a plan of treatment to give you medical advice.
Sometimes, this infection can also be a symptom of a medical illness.
Your doctor may suggest getting a physical exam done along with blood tests.
This can detect any underlying illness that is causing the infection.
Once, they have the results, they can start your treatment.
Oral Thrush Treatment
Treatment for oral thrush in adults and children who are healthy is usually to give them anti-fungal medicine.
Besides tablets, your doctor may recommend liquids to rinse your mouth with or lozenges to suck on.
Though, this treatment may not apply to everyone.
For instance, older adults with a weak immune system can most probably take an antifungal medicine.
However, infants cannot rinse their mouths or suck on lozenges.
Therefore, your doctor may recommend a very mild antifungal medication for them.
Also, if your breasts have the infection too, then they will give a topical anti-fungal cream for you to apply.
Other than medicines, you can implement some home remedies to relieve your child, a senior in the family or yourself from the infection and pain.
- While you are brushing your teeth do not brush harshly. This may scrape the lesions leading to bleeding.
- Maintain good oral hygiene and keep brushing and flossing. However, do not use mouthwash until your doctor approves.
- Do not let anyone use your toothbrush plus keep replacing it until the infection is gone.
- Instead of mouthwash use salt water rinse. Mix around half a teaspoon of salt with a cup of water. Swish, rinse and spit!
- Do not forget to disinfect your dentures as the infection may return if they are not clean.
- Avoid the spread of the fungus from your breasts by using nursing pads and cleaning your breast pumps and pacifiers.
- Eat more yogurt as it contains beneficial bacteria.
These remedies and treatments can help prevent the rapid spread of the fungus in a matter of weeks.
However, this infection can return if you do not get rid of the underlying cause.
Though, this is normal for infants as they can get it several times during their first year.
Some of the causes of this infection are preventable.
While you may not be able to stop taking your medicines and get rid of your disease, you can choose to quit smoking.
Similarly, you can maintain better oral hygiene by regular brushing and flossing softly.
Also, limit your daily sugar intake as it can facilitate the growth of microbes hence, also increasing the number of the candida fungus.
This is also important to control your diabetes.
Not only consume fewer sugary foods but also keep a check on your blood sugar levels.
Normal levels will not give rise to sugars in the saliva, as a result not changing the amount of fungus.
You should also treat dry mouth quickly.
It is not a normal condition and it not only encourages the growth of fungus but also leads to decay and cavities.
Cope by drinking more water and using chewing gum.
One cause behind this infection is a corticosteroid inhaler.
After using it, remember to always rinse your mouth.
Similarly, brush your teeth after you take any medication.
Learn about disnfecting dentures from your dentits.
Clean them daily and take them off at night.
If they cause any irritation, remove them.
Also, ensure that they fit properly.
Besides dry mouth, also treat your vaginal yeast infection or any other years infection before it spread to your child or partner.
Using these precautions, remedies and treatments you can control Oral Thrush.
However, this infection will likely return if your immunity stays weak and you do not completely eliminate the underlying main cause.
Therefore, you should take preventable measures while you are treating it to stop its recurrence.