Thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth. Another name for thrush is candidiasis.
The yeast that causes thrush is a type of fungus called candida. It’s normal to have some yeast in our bodies and in our mouths. It usually does not cause a problem because normal bacteria keep it from growing out of control.
Sometimes the yeast grows quickly and if it grows out of control it causes an infection.
Several things may cause an overgrowth of yeast:
Yeast infections are more likely if you have diabetes, especially when your blood sugar level is too high.
Thrush can usually be seen as white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. These areas may or may not be sore. Sometimes the white patches of fungus get rubbed or scraped off, leaving red areas that are tender. Sometimes the corners of the mouth get sore and red. The infected areas may sting or burn when eating hot or acidic foods (like citrus or tomatoes). If the thrush is severe, it may be hard to eat and swallow.
In severe cases, thrush may spread down into the esophagus, the food pipe that leads to your stomach. If this happens, you may have pain, trouble swallowing, or a feeling that food is stuck in your throat or chest.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. The diagnosis may be clear from your symptoms and your exam. Your provider may collect samples of cells from a white patch to check for yeast.
Thrush often flares up and then goes away on its own. Mild cases can be treated by gently removing the white patches from your mouth with a cotton swab. If you have another medical problem and often have thrush, talk to your healthcare provider. He may be able to change your treatment to decrease the risk of thrush.
Your provider may prescribe an antifungal medicine. The medicine may be taken as a liquid, which is swished around the mouth and swallowed, or as a pill.
In most cases you will feel better 2 to 3 days after you start using the medicine, but you may still have some redness or tenderness in your mouth. It is very important to take all the medicine as prescribed, even after the infection seems to be gone.
If you are breast-feeding an infant who has oral thrush, often you both need to be treated. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine for your baby and a cream for your breasts. Normally, breast-feeding can continue, as long as you limit feedings to 20 minutes per breast. This will help you avoid nipple pain.
If you get thrush often because of another chronic condition, your provider may prescribe daily medicine to keep it from coming back.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition:
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
To prevent thrush, keep these tips in mind: