As the term indicates, mouth thrush affects the mucous membranes of the mouth. An infection of fungi (yeast) belonging to the genus Candida is responsible for the condition. It is often caused by Candida albicans, but sometimes it can be caused by Candida glabrata or Candida tropicalis. The term "oral thrush" is generally used to describe the fungal infection in the mouth of a baby. If it occurs in the mouth or throat of adults, it is usually referred to as "candidiasis" or "moniliasis". The signs and symptoms may develop suddenly. Moreover, they may persist for a long time.
- Pain in the mouth
- Creamy-white lesions on the tongue, inner cheeks
- Sometimes lesions on the roof of the mouth, gums, and tonsils
- Lesions look like cottage cheese
- Loss of taste
- A cottony feeling in the mouth cavity
- Lesions spread into esophagus, creating difficulty in swallowing
- Infants may have trouble feeding
The thrush is contagious, especially in breastfeeding mothers. Infants may pass the infection to their mothers during breastfeeding. The infection then passes back and forth between mother's breasts and baby's mouth. If breasts are infected with candida, following symptoms may be noticed:
- Shiny or flaky skin on the areola
- Stabbing pain deep within the breast
- Remarkably red, sensitive, or itchy nipples
- Pain in nipples while feeding
- Consumption of sugar rich diet is the main cause as candida requires sugar and moisture for survival.
- Diabetic patients have high blood glucose levels, and so are more susceptible to thrush and other fungal infections than others.
- Too much of antibiotics kills useful bacteria, disturbing their balance. Lack of defending bacteria and other microbes results in easily caught infection of candida fungus in the mouth, and also in other body parts.
- A weak immune system can result in infections. So, people suffering from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, vaginal yeast infections, etc., are most likely to be attacked by candida.
- Wearing ill-fitted dentures leads to constant irritation and inflammation of gums and mouth parts, leading to candidiasis.
Home Remedies For Adults
Yogurt: Besides proper medication, regular consumption of yogurt is one of the best solutions for mouth fungus problems. Yogurt contains acidophilus, a bacterium, which helps in destroying excess fungus. Thus yogurt can naturally treat and prevent such infections.
Avoid Sugar: You may opt for candida cleanse diet to get rid of the infection. Avoiding sugar and fermented food products helps get rid of the symptoms fast.
Include Onion and Garlic: Garlic exhibits anti fungal properties. Onions also help cure the condition. You may use combination of onion and garlic in your food.
Gargling: Add a few drops of tea tree oil to warm water, and hold the water in your mouth for a minute (swish around the mouth), and spit it. Do not swallow the mixture. You can also use a mixture of tepid water, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt, to rinse your mouth, or you may simply rinse your mouth with tepid water containing half tea spoon of salt.
Healthy Diet: The treatment also includes following a healthy, balanced, and high fiber diet, as it helps maintain correct blood sugar levels.
Proper Dentures: Elderly people should wear correctly fitted dentures.
Oral Hygiene: Keeping your mouth, tongue, teeth, and gums clean is equally important. Maintaining oral hygiene helps prevent thrush. Smoking and dry mouth can lead to oral thrush. So drinking plenty of water, and following a healthy lifestyle is necessary to avoid the problem of mouth fungus.
Homemade Mouthwashes: Anti fungal home mouthwashes can be prepared. For example, take equal parts of a tincture consisting of licorice, myrrh, and echinacea, and use one teaspoon of this mixture with water as a mouthwash, every three to four hours.
For Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies
Grapefruit seed extract exhibits antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties. It can be used to treat the condition in babies. Add ten drops of grapefruit seed extract to one ounce of water. Dip a clean cotton ball into the solution, and apply the solution onto the mother's nipples. You can also use the same solution to gently wipe the inside of the baby's mouth. You are supposed to swab the baby's mouth before nursing, and dab the solution onto the nipples after breastfeeding.
Drops, yeast gel, tablets, or lozenges that contain nystatin or miconazole are generally prescribed by doctors to get rid of thrush. Proper and timely treatment can prevent the recurrence of the symptoms.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.