This mouth infection caused by an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans is common in infants but can also occur in adults. White plaques on the tongue may be the first sign.
Thrush or oral candidiasis is a fungal infection in the mouth that causes white plaques to appear on the tongue and mucous membranes. Although it is more common in babies, it also occurs in adults.
We explain why it happens and how you can prevent it.
CAUSES OF THRUSH
Thrush or oral candidiasis is an infection in the oral cavity caused by a yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida albicans.
Candida is usually found in the mouth and throat (as well as on the skin, intestine, or vagina) without causing a problem. However, it can sometimes overgrow and cause infection when the environment of the mouth changes in a way that favors its growth.
Thrush is rare in healthy adults. These are the factors that can increase the probability of suffering it, such as:
- Wear dentures.
- Having a weakened immune system due to pathologies such as cancer, diabetes, or AIDS, or treatments such as chemotherapy.
- They were taking antibiotics or corticosteroids (such as inhaled corticosteroids used for asthma) as they upset the balance of the oral microbiota.
- Having diseases that cause dry mouth or taking medications that cause dry mouth.
SYMPTOMS OF THRUSH
- It can also spread to the palate, gums, tonsils, or throat.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), other symptoms are:
- Redness or pain in the mouth.
- loss of taste
- Pain when eating or swallowing.
THRUSH IN BABIES
Thrush is very common in babies under six months of age because their immune system is not fully developed.
- Like those in adults, the symptoms can cause them to have trouble sucking and not feeding well.
- It is common for babies with thrush to develop a yeast infection or diaper rash at the same time because fungus from the mouth spreads to the diaper area.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Your doctor will usually diagnose thrush with a simple eye exam. You can also take a sample that will be analyzed in the laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
- Treatment usually consists of antifungal drugs or solutions.
PREVENTION OF THRUSH
- If you use corticosteroid inhalers for asthma, rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth after use.
- If you wear dentures, take them out at night, clean them well every day, and make sure they fit properly.
- Limit the consumption of sugar, as it encourages the proliferation of Candida.
If the infection occurs in a baby, it is important to thoroughly clean the pacifiers, bottles, and toys that are put in the mouth after each use to avoid reinfection.
- Bottles already prepared must be stored in the refrigerator to prevent the overgrowth of fungi or yeast.
The fungus can affect the nipples and be continuously transmitted between mother and baby in breastfeeding women.