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Oral thrush is considered an extremely painful disease of the mouth and throat. Thrush is caused by a fungal infection. In most cases, it is the yeast Candida albicans.
Other fungi are also possible. Infestation is possible on and in the mouth. Often the disease starts on the inside of the cheeks and/or on the lips. Furthermore, oral thrush can spread to the throat, the palate, and the tongue.
Find out here what the fungal infection is all about.
Skin Fungus And Oral Thrush Caused By Candida Albicans
An infection with the fungus Candida albicans usually not only causes a painful oral thrush but can also trigger a skin fungus. Infections are also possible in the genital area. In addition, the conjunctiva, ears, skin folds, nail folds, and many other areas can be affected.
How You Recognize Oral Thrush
Characteristic for oral thrush are the strongly red-colored mucous membranes in the mouth area. Furthermore, there are white, spot-like stipples on the mucous membranes, for example on the inside of the cheeks.
At the beginning of the disease, the spots look like small speckles. They can also be found on the tip of the tongue, on the palate, and on the inside of the lips. The respective spots can be wiped off relatively easily.
A strong red, shiny area appears underneath. If the disease is not treated, the small stipples multiply and join together to form large white patches. If one detaches these large spots, a slightly bleeding area may appear.
In certain cases, oral thrush spreads to the throat and esophagus. Besides this typical classic appearance, oral thrush is characterized by other symptoms:
- Strong bad breath.
- A pronounced feeling of thirst.
- Disturbance of the taste (often metallic).
- A furry feeling in the mouth area.
- Dry mouth.
- Burning pain.
If oral thrush is in its initial stage, most noticeable symptoms do not appear. These usually only set in as the disease progresses. An infection is particularly unpleasant for babies
Parents can recognize a disease, among other things, by the child’s reluctance to drink. In this context, it is important to observe drinking behavior closely. We have summarized for you how much a baby should drink. If the fungus continues to spread, white coatings can also be found on the baby’s oral mucosa
Chronic Forms Of Oral Thrush And More
Oral thrush does not always occur as described. There are also other forms of the disease. So thrush can also be present without white coatings. In rare cases, acute erythematous candidiasis, among others, occurs.
This form develops especially during antibiotic therapy or in the presence of HIV infection. In this case, the infection is characterized by severe mucosal redness and a severe burning sensation in the mouth area.
Another form is chronic hyperplastic candidiasis. In this type, there are adherent white coatings on the mucous membranes and on the tongue. A red border forms around these coatings. This form of oral thrush often occurs in people with immunodeficiency. The infection can persist for several months to years.
Causes Of Oral Thrush – What You Should Know
In most cases, oral thrush is caused by colonization with the yeast Candida albicans. Candida is generally a very widespread fungus. An infestation within the oral cavity can be detected in about 50 percent of all people, but the disease only actually breaks out in a few of them.
The decisive factor for an outbreak of the disease is a weakened immune system. This does not refer to congenital or acquired immune deficiencies but to ongoing diseases or cracks in the mucous membrane.
Oral thrush is particularly common in newborns and babies. The reason for this is the as yet insufficient immune defense. Older children and adults usually develop thrush when their own defenses are suppressed by medication or when the body is generally weakened due to an illness, for example, influenza during pregnancy.
Elderly people who are missing teeth or who have dentures are also at risk. Finally, it should be noted at this point that oral thrush can be triggered not only by Candida albicans but also by Candida tropicalis or Candida stelltoidea.
However, these fungi usually act more on the skin and accordingly trigger a skin fungus.
Mothers Often Infect Babies With Oral Thrush
In most cases, newborns become infected with thrush during birth in their mothers. The cause is usually an undetected skin fungus in the genital area. If such an infection occurs, the oral fungus already appears during the first days of the child’s life.
Up to five percent of all babies are affected. Older babies, on the other hand, can become infected through the saliva of their caregivers. It should be noted that almost all people are infected with oral thrush at least once in their lives. However, the disease itself does not always have to break out, so that a silent infection is also possible.
Risk Factors For An Infection Oral Thrush
In principle, however, not only newborns and babies are at massive risk; other groups of people also have an increased risk of contracting oral thrush. For example, people of advanced age.
The following is a list of possible risk factors for infection with skin fungus and thrush:
- Illness with AIDS.
- HIV infections.
- Acute infectious diseases such as pneumonia.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Taking medications such as antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, asthma sprays with cortisone.
- A deficiency of various nutrients (e.g., vitamin B or iron deficiency).
- The consumption of nicotine.
- A decreased production of saliva.
- Dentures and dentures.
Distinguishing Oral Thrush From Oral Rot And The Like
It is not uncommon for diseases such as oral thrush and oral rot to be confused or equated. However, the differences are serious, especially with regard to adequate treatment.
For example, oral thrush is not a fungal infection, but a herpes virus. Both diseases require different treatment. In order to clearly identify oral thrush, an appropriate diagnosis by the treating physician is required.
An important indicator is the clinical picture. Experienced physicians usually recognize oral thrush at first glance. Under certain circumstances, however, there may also be a risk of confusion.
Not only with oral thrush but also with leukoplakia, which is considered a precursor of tumor formation. For this reason, doctors often use a wooden spatula to gently scrape off the plaque on the mucous membranes. The doctor then checks the mucous membrane under the stipples. Oral thrush can be identified quite easily in this way.
In the case of an atypical picture of oral thrush, however, it may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis by taking swabs. Under a microscope, pathogens can be unmasked in this way. Although oral thrush does not require a blood test, it should be mentioned for the sake of completeness that a blood test will show antibodies to Candida in the presence of infection.
Treat Oral Thrush Adequately And Relieve Pain Quickly
For the treatment of oral thrush, different antifungal medications can be considered. This is also referred to as antifungals. The respective agents must be suitable for the mouth and throat area.
Examples of active ingredients include nystatin and amphotericin B. The drugs are administered as lozenges, oral gel, suspension or solution. For those affected, it is important that the treatment is given for as long as prescribed.
Premature discontinuation of treatment should always be avoided. In addition, during oral thrush treatment, it is imperative to maintain careful hygiene in the mouth area.
If a baby suffers from oral thrush, it is advisable to change pacifiers, bottles and teats. Alternatively, thorough sterilization is recommended.
Preventing Oral Thrush: How To Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones
In the meantime, various possibilities are known with which oral thrush can be largely prevented. However, there is no 100% protection. Hygiene is particularly important for babies and small children.
Teats, pacifiers and teething toys should be cleaned regularly. Parents should always refrain from cleaning the dropped pacifier with their own saliva, for example:
For older people who wear dentures or dentures, it is always important to ensure an optimal fit. The mouth area should be thoroughly cleaned after meals. In principle, the focus is on thorough hygiene.
Oral Thrush Prognosis
The same applies to oral thrush as to skin fungus: if the infection is treated consistently, it subsides relatively quickly. In very rare cases, however, oral thrush persists over a longer period of time or recurs.
If this is the case, urgent consultation with the treating physician is advisable. Often he prescribes a stronger antifungal agent. This then acts not only superficially, but also in the digestive tract.
10 FAQs On The Subject Of Oral Thrush
1. Why Do Newborns Already Have Oral Thrush?
Newborns usually become infected with Candida albicans, the fungus that causes oral thrush, directly during birth. The reason for this is usually an infection of the mother in the genital area. Prophylactic fungal treatment of the mother is recommended before the birth. It is best to discuss this with your doctor.
2. What Can Be Done Against Oral Thrush?
Refrain from treating oral thrush with self-acquired remedies, especially in babies and young children. Laymen can confuse thrush with similar infections of other causes. Therefore, you should always consult the treating physician. He or she will prescribe an appropriate medication that will help the fungal infection to disappear quickly.
3. How Is Oral Thrush Transmitted?
The Candida fungi that cause oral thrush primarily colonize the mucous membranes, but can also manifest themselves in the form of a Candida skin fungus. Transmission is possible through appropriate mucosal or salivary contact. For example, during childbirth via the genital area or when kissing via the mouth.
5. Which Doctor Should Be Contacted In Case Of Oral Thrush?
Oral thrush can be detected and treated by any family doctor or pediatrician. Alternatively, the dermatologist is recommended.
6. How Long Does It Take To Cure Oral Thrush?
In principle, the duration of healing depends on various factors. The earlier treatment of the thrush begins, the faster the fungal infection heals.
7. How Contagious Is Oral Thrush?
Similar to skin fungus infections, oral thrush is also highly contagious. Upon contact with the pathogens, an infection occurs. However, whether the disease breaks out is individual.
8. What Does Oral Thrush Look Like?
Oral thrush is recognizable by white speckles on the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat area. The plaques can be wiped away quite easily. Underneath the plaques, the Candida fungi cause the skin to become noticeably red, which is conspicuous due to its shiny surface. If left untreated, the white speckles run together to form larger patches.
9. Are Thrush And Oral Thrush The Same Thing?
No. While thrush, like various types of skin fungus, is caused by the yeast Candida albicans, oral thrush is a herpes infection.
10. What Should You Do If You Suspect Oral Thrush?
If you suspect that you or your child is suffering from oral thrush, you should consult a doctor. He can recognize the disease very quickly and prescribe appropriate medication.