Have you ever noticed whitening of the top layer of your tongue or the presence of white patches or spots on your tongue? It could be an infection. It can also be accompanied by infection, irritation, or chronic inflammation of the surface of your tongue. Certain oral infections, notably Candida yeast infection, also called oral thrush, are characterized by a white tongue.
Oral candidiasis, or oral thrush is a yeast/fungal infection of the genus Candida that develops on the mucous membranes of the mouth. For the majority of people, thrush does not cause any severe issues. However, the story is different for people having a weakened immune system. For them, the symptoms and signs might be more powerful.
According to stats, the outcome for oral thrush treatment is usually excellent. People often respond well to thrush treatment. However, oral thrush might reappear within a few weeks, especially if the causing factor such as smoking is not removed.
Here we take a close look at the yeast infection, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is Yeast Infection or Oral Thrush?
A yeast germ commonly known as Candida is the one responsible for causing the infection thrush. Your oral cavity is the most common site where Candida causes infection. Candida infection, when it occurs in your mouth, is also referred to as oral thrush. Other locations where thrush might develop are the nappy area, vagina, and nail folds.
Yeast is only a tiny, microscopic fungus present all around you. – on your body and even inside your body. Generally, yeast does more good than bad in your body. Yeast can harmoniously exist with other microorganisms inside the oral cavity, body, and throat in low amounts.
The infection might only occur when some adverse condition causes this yeast somewhere in the body to start multiplying. If you have a yeast infection, visit your doctor to get the disease diagnosed and treated.
If you notice a strange white rash-like growth, especially in the mucus layer of your mouth, this condition could be oral thrush. It could be an infectious disease caused by the Candida fungus, which is typically a yeast.
This yeast infection can lead to rashes in your mouth and also in other parts of the body. It can also cause diaper rash in infants or vaginal yeast infections commonly seen in women.
Anyone can get an oral thrush. But the infection happens most often to toddlers and babies, older adults, and individuals having a weakened immune system.
Babies and older adults probably get affected because they have reduced immunity. The infection could also be visible in people with suppressed immune systems or have specific health conditions. It can also affect people who take certain antifungal medications.
Fast Facts on Yeast Infection or Oral Thrush
This yeast infection is a minor problem if you are a healthy person. Oral thrush might not cause problems in such people. In contrast, the symptoms might be more severe and difficult to control if you have a weakened immune system.
Some key points about yeast infection you should know about.
- Yeast infection is a commonly occurring condition. The infection does not cause significant problems for individuals with a strong immune system.
- Individuals with a reduced immune system are the worst affected by the infection.
- The Candida fungus survives on the mucous membrane, but if too much grows in one area, it might cause symptoms.
- One can notice the yeast infection more regularly after radiotherapy or chemotherapy to the head and neck region.
- This condition is more pronounced in individuals who wear dentures, have diabetes, or take steroids.
- The most apparent symptom seen is the white-colored or creamy deposits in the mouth.
- Oral treatments or local antifungal treatments may help treat oral thrush.
- By practicing good hygiene, you can prevent yeast infection.
Learn more about Lichen Planus here.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
Children and adults
Initially, the symptoms are so minor that you might not even notice them. Common signs and symptoms may include:
- White, creamy lesions noticed on your tongue and inner cheeks on the mucous membrane. Sometimes they are seen even on the roof of your mouth, tonsils, and even gums. Lesions may appear even on the back of your throat.
- Some individuals may have slightly raised lesions that have a cottage cheese-like appearance.
- Inflammation, burning, redness, or soreness might be noticed that could be severe enough to cause difficulty in swallowing or eating.
- You may notice slight bleeding if the lesions are scraped or rubbed.
- Redness and cracks occur at the corners of your mouth.
- There could be a loss of taste.
- You may notice a cottony feeling in the mouth.
- If you experience irritation, pain, and redness under the dentures, they are called denture stomatitis.
In severe cases, the yeast infection is usually seen in individuals with cancer or having a weakened immune system due to AIDS/HIV. In such cases, the lesions might spread downward into the esophagus.
The esophagus is the muscular, long tube-like structure stretching from the back of your mouth to your stomach. If the condition occurs, people often experience difficulty swallowing hard food. Hence one has to take semi-solid food or liquids. One might also experience pain or feel as if food items are getting stuck in their throat.
Infants and breastfeeding mothers
In addition to the distinctive white mouth lesions in oral thrush, infants may have trouble feeding or be fussy and irritable. There are chances that the baby might pass the yeast infectious diseases to their mother while they breastfeed.
Women whose breasts get infected with the candida yeast may experience symptoms such as:
- Sensitive, red, cracked, or itchy nipples.
- Shiny or flaky skin on the darker, circular area, especially around the nipple or areola.
- Stabbing or throbbing pain deep within the breast.
- One might also experience unusual pain during nursing. Also, one might notice painful nipples, especially between feedings.
When to see a doctor
If you or your infant develop white lesions or creamy layers in your mouth’s inner lining, you must see your doctor or dentist immediately. Oral thrush is uncommon in healthy older children, teenagers, and even adults.
If you notice any symptoms of yeast infection developing, visit your doctor and seek medical advice to determine if further evaluation is essential. Your dentist will try to check for an underlying medical condition or other causes.
What is Yeast Infection Treatment?
Treatment of oral thrush depends on the cause and severity and of your infection. If your doctor identifies that some reversible condition might have caused the disease, then those factors are corrected as part of the treatment. These conditions could be ill-fitting dentures, regular smoking, taking antibiotics, or even poorly controlled diabetes.
Babies, toddlers, and children often do not require treatment. In children who have oral thrush that persisted for more than a few weeks, your pediatrician might prescribe antifungal nystatin drops.
Once the treatment is started, the yeast infection goes away within a couple of weeks. Only in some cases does it return. However, for adults who have recurring cases of a yeast infection with no known cause, your doctor will evaluate the underlying medical conditions that might contribute to the disease. It has been noticed that babies might have several episodes of thrush during their first year after birth.
In most cases, your doctors will prescribe anti-thrush drugs, such as nystatin or miconazole, in the form of drops, gel, or lozenges. Alternatively, your doctor might prescribe a topical oral suspension which should be washed around the mouth and then swallowed.
Oral or intravenously administered antifungals may be the best choice for individuals with weakened immune systems. If treatment does not work, your doctor may prescribe other medicines that might be effective. However, this should only be used as a last resort as there could be adverse side effects, including nausea, fever, and vomiting.
1 Locally applied treatment
For mild thrush symptoms, your dentist will prescribe the usual miconazole mouth gel for one week. At times you might need a two-week course. Alternatively, your doctor might use Nystatin drops to treat your infection.
You should follow the instructions marked on the packet:
- The drops or gel should be used after you have your meal.
- Smear a little amount of gel on your affected areas and use clean fingers to spread it out. Apply it four times a day.
- You can use a dropper to place the liquid drops inside the mouth.
- Ideally, you should try to avoid eating or drinking for about 30 minutes after using the gel or drops. This step would help prevent medicine wastage.
2 Anti-thrush tablets
Tablets for thrush contain a medicine called fluconazole. It can effectively help clear fungal infections and thrush infections from your mouth. Your dentist will prescribe only in the most severe cases. For example, people with a poor immune system often develop extensive thrush. Once your doctor prescribes tablets for a week, the infection will completely clear away.
3 Adjustment of other medication
If you are taking other medicines that might have increased the symptoms of oral thrush, like steroids or antibiotics, your doctor might need to change the medication. Else your doctor might reduce the dose to help clear up your yeast infection.
4 Referral to a Specialist
Your doctor might refer you to a specialist if these above measures do not diminish the infection. Moreover, if you have particularly health-related issues or other severe disease, your doctor might refer you to a specialist. It often happens when an individual is undergoing chemotherapy or taking other medicines that weaken their immune system.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies to Treat Yeast Infection
These outlined measures may help in reducing your risk of developing yeast infection:
- You should practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily or as frequently as your dentist recommends. In addition, try to replace your toothbrush often till the time your infection clears up. Also, avoid sharing toothbrushes.
- Disinfect your dentures frequently. Remove your dentures at night. You should make it a practice to clean your dentures regularly. Also, make sure dentures fit correctly and do not cause any irritation while wearing them. Ask your dentist the best method to clean your dentures.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water frequently. Dissolve some salt in one cup of warm water. Swish the rinse, and then throw it off. The salt water rinse will reduce your oral infection.
- Visit your dentist regularly for dental checkups. Especially if you are wearing dentures or people who have diabetes.
- Keep a close watch on what you eat and try limiting the amount of sugar-containing food. Remember, the sugary food might encourage the growth of the fungus candida.
- In addition, try to maintain good blood sugar control if you have diabetes. Even if you have diabetes, having well-controlled blood sugar can reduce the amount of sugar in your saliva. Low sugar in the saliva would discourage the growth of Candida.
With treatment, the infection will disappear after a few weeks. However, if you are prone to it, you may need to visit a specialist doctor.
At times the yeast infection goes away and even comes back. This often happens because the underlying cause does not go away or is not treated. Whatever be the reason, your doctor will be able to suggest the best treatment plan for your unique condition. Give us a call today if you need any clarification.