What is Thrush?
Thrush is an infection of the mouth that is caused by an influx of yeast fungi. The body naturally harbors yeast in the mouth and digestive tract; however, it is generally kept at a healthy level by other microorganisms and bacteria in the body. An upset in the balance of microorganisms in the mouth can create the perfect environment for yeast overgrowth, thus, creating a yeast infection in the mouth, or thrush. Thrush can affect anyone; however, it is most commonly observed in toddlers, babies, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems
.Common Symptoms of Thrush
Thrush can induce a number of symptoms, the most obvious being white, cottage cheese-like dots on the tongue, inner cheeks, and gums. They can sometimes appear on the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat, as well. These creamy white lesions can be painful and may cause bleeding when brushing or scraping your teeth. Other common symptoms of thrush include:
- Infants may be fussy or have trouble when feeding
- Loss of taste
- A feeling that food is stuck in your throat or mid chest
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Redness and cracking at the corners of the mouth
- A cottony feeling in your mouth
- Fever, if the infection spreads to the esophagus
Infants can pass the infection onto the mother while feeding. In which case, the infection can be passed back and forth between the mother and the child, until they seek treatment. Women whose breasts are infected with yeast may experience various symptoms including:
Common Causes of Thrush
- Sharp, intense pains in the breasts
- Extreme pain during feeding or nipple pain between feedings
- Red, sensitive, cracked or itchy nipples
- Flaky, shiny skin on the darker, circular area of the nipple
Various elements can upset the delicate balance in the mouth and increase the risk of developing thrush, including an improper diet. Certain foods, such as foods high in fat, processed foods, white flour products, and alcohol, can disrupt the balance in the mouth and digestive tract, which can leave you susceptible to yeast overgrowth. Also, yeast feeds off sugar, so a diet high in sugar can also increase your risk of yeast infections
. Medications, such as contraceptives and antibiotics, can also increase the risk of developing thrush.
Certain illnesses, such as diabetes
, cancer, and HIV, can also predispose you to thrush because they weaken the immune system. Denture wearers and people who smoke, also incur a greater risk of developing thrush.
For infants, the natural birth process can increase the risk of developing thrush. When a baby moves down the birth canal, they are exposed to yeast. The hormonal changes that occur just after birth can trigger an overgrowth of yeast in the baby's mouth, resulting in thrush. Also, mothers who are suffering from a vaginal yeast infection at the time of birth can pass the infection onto the child. Nursing mothers who take antibiotics, also increase infant's risk of developing thrush because antibiotics destroy good bacteria that keep yeast in check.