Oral Thrush

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Oral thrush (sometimes called candidasis) is a type of mouth infection caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. Fortunately, oral thrush cannot be passed on to others but it can develop in several parts of the body including the folds of your nails, the nappy area or vagina.

Symptoms of Oral Thrush

Most patients with oral thrush experience spots coloured yellow, white or cream which appear on the surfaces of the mouth. Although these are usually limited to the mouth in some cases they can spread down to the throat area. Although the spots aren't typically painful they often cause problems with eating.

Causes of Oral Thrush

The yeast germ which is responsible for oral thrush occurs almost everywhere. Most people will have some present on their skin and it is estimated over half the people in the UK have some in their mouths. Most of the time this won't cause any problems but there can be situations where your immune system is compromised or changes occurring in your mouth leave you vulnerable to oral thrush. A dry mouth due to salivary problems or radiation therapy can also lead to the onset of oral thrush.

Oral thrush is very common but only causes severe problems in the rarest of cases. There are several factors which can reduce your natural resistance to the yeast and encourage it's growth, these include, viral infections, steroids or antibiotics killing off protective bacteria. Dentures which don't fit well have also been shown to encourage candida growth.

Treatment for Oral Thrush

If oral thrush occurs due to an underlying problem then this must first be treated. However, for general oral thrush attacks the most common treatment is anti-fungal medication. This can be administered in drop or pastille form. Oral thrush may also develop in breastfeeding babies and the mother will need to apply a specialised anti-fungal cream to her nipples to prevent infection.

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