Oral Thrush Treatment & Remedies

Oral Thrush Treatment & Remedies

The initial step in oral thrush treatment is understanding what is going on and learning to recognize the symptoms of oral thrush. When the mucous membranes of the mouth become infected with an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, the resulting infection is called thrush.

This is the same fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections and diaper rash. Although technically a condition in infants, the term “thrush” has become a catch-all for adult mouth and throat yeast infections.

The First Signs Are Visual

Oral thrush symptoms include white or yellow spots on the tongue and the lining of the cheeks that have a slightly raised surface. The outbreak can spread to the roof of the mouth, the gums, the tonsils, and the back of the throat. Usually, there is only mild pain, although the spots will bleed when they have scratched away. Adults may experience burning in the mouth and throat.

When thrush spreads to the throat (Candida esophagitis), you will have difficulty swallowing and experience the feeling of food being stuck in your throat or chest. Fever is also likely.

Babies can develop thrush in the first few weeks after birth. The mouth lesions will also be present in infants, and the child will be fussy. Many women do not realize the child has an outbreak of thrush until the infection is passed to the mother’s breast due to nursing. The mother’s nipples will become red and irritated with taut areolas and sharp pain deep in the breast.

Imbalances Cause Thrush

The causes of oral thrush are issues that create an imbalance in the normal relationship between our body and the Candida albicans. When something happens to weaken the body’s immune system, the naturally occurring viruses, bacteria, and fungi that travel in our bodies and co-exist with us peacefully and beneficially can suddenly begin to grow out of control.

Diagnosis, Mainly By Visual Exam

Usually, the diagnosis is nothing more than a visual examination of the mouth. Find a photograph of oral thrush. Charts of disorders of the mouth typically contain such an illustration. You will see that the outbreak resembles cottage cheese and is quite distinctive. Occasionally, a doctor will take a small scraping of a single lesion for examination under the microscope, but simply looking at the outbreak is enough for a doctor to begin oral thrush treatment.

If the thrush has spread into the throat, the doctor will likely take a throat swab and culture the collected tissue. This is to determine which bacteria or fungus is growing back there. If the outbreak is particularly severe, endoscopic examination with a device that allows the doctor to see the esophagus, stomach, and the upper portions of the small intestine may be required. This is done under mild sedation and local anesthesia to prevent coughing and gagging.

An alternate imaging method has the patient drinking a “milkshake” of barium before being x-rayed. The x-rays are taken as the barium flows down the esophagus and into the stomach and serves to highlight and define the areas that require examination.

Unsweetened Yogurt for Oral Thrush

While unsweetened yogurt may not directly cure oral thrush, it can help to alleviate symptoms and improve overall oral health.

Oral thrush is caused by an overgrowth of Candida, a fungus naturally present in the mouth. Yogurt contains live cultures of lactobacilli, bacteria that can help restore the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and reduce the growth of Candida. However, it’s important to note that not all types of yogurt contain these live cultures, so it’s best to check the label and look for products that specifically mention having probiotics or live cultures.

In addition to consuming yogurt, maintaining good oral hygiene practices can also help manage oral thrush. This includes brushing and flossing regularly and using an antifungal mouthwash or oral rinse, as a healthcare professional recommends. It’s also essential to address any underlying health conditions or risk factors contributing to the development of oral thrush.

Tips on Treating Oral Thrush

Antifungal medication is used in infants and older children. If the mother is infected, both mother and child will require treatment. Antifungal cream will be given to the mother for her breasts. Adults usually receive antifungal tablets or liquids; the treatment will last ten days to two weeks. Because antifungal is hard on the liver, do not be surprised if your doctor requires blood tests for monitoring.

The primary goal of oral thrush remedies is to stop the growth of the fungus. Treating oral thrush in toddlers may involve using antibiotics or adding unsweetened yogurt to the diet to balance the body’s bacteria. Drinking buttermilk is a traditional oral thrush home remedy, as is eating yogurt.

In addition to unsweetened yogurt, other natural remedies that may help with oral thrush include:

  • Coconut oil contains antifungal properties and can be swished around the mouth to help combat oral thrush.
  • Tea tree oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties that can help treat oral thrush. It should be diluted with carrier oil before being applied to the affected area.
  • Saltwater: Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe symptoms and reduce inflammation.
  • Garlic has antifungal properties and can be consumed or applied topically to help treat oral thrush.
  • Probiotics help to restore the balance of good bacteria in the body, which can help prevent the overgrowth of candida.

Any of these natural or alternative remedies have the same goals as medical treatments: restore balance in the body and bring the abnormal growth of the Candida albicans under control.

It’s important to note that natural remedies should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you suspect you have oral thrush, it’s important to see a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

To Prevent Thrush Avoid Irritants

Adding yogurt to the diet is a tried and true preventative for thrush, as acidophilus tablets are available from the health food store. Quit smoking, and visit the dentist regularly, especially if you wear dentures or have diabetes. Limit your sugar intake as well as that of yeasty foods like bread, wine, and beer. Women should treat vaginal yeast infections (especially during pregnancy) as quickly as possible to prevent outbreaks of yeast in other parts of the body, including the mouth.

Don’t ignore an outbreak of thrush and allow it to spread down your throat. Thankfully, in most cases, the symptoms of oral thrush manifest quickly and with enough drama and discomfort that they cannot be ignored. The sooner you begin oral thrush treatment, the sooner you will be rid of the annoyance of the condition and the danger of it spreading and causing complications.

Other Diseases Can Be Responsible

Many medical conditions can be the cause of oral thrush. In the last twenty-five years, HIV/AIDS has topped this list. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks all aspects of the immune system making the patient highly susceptible to infections of all types. Although rare early in cases of AIDS, thrush often appears when the T-cell count falls below 350. If the T-cells fall below 200, the thrush will most likely spread into the throat. The presence of thrush typically indicates that AIDS is worsening.

Cancers of any kind and their treatment also affect the immune system resulting in outbreaks of thrush. Thrush can be very severe for patients with cancer or HIV as it dramatically weakens the immune system and limits their ability to take adequate nutrition if allowed to grow into the throat.

In diabetic patients where the saliva contains large amounts of sugar, thrush is common. If a woman develops a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy, the chances are good her baby will have thrush. Another common cause of thrush is a problem called xerostomia or dry mouth syndrome.

A dry mouth can be a natural consequence of aging from tobacco products or medications. Some autoimmune diseases also cause dry mouth, and anything likely to disrupt the mouth’s chemistry can cause an outbreak of thrush. Even wearing dentures (and not properly maintaining the appliance) can be responsible for thrush. (Also, be aware that antibiotics or corticosteroids that upset the body’s chemical balance may also be culprits.)

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