Oral candidiasis and thrush is an infection of the oral cavity caused by the fungal organism called candida albicans. Although commonly found, thrush is not a serious condition in healthy adults and children.
However, the presence of oral candidiasis can be uncomfortable and may involve difficulties in infants feeding if not treated. Candida albicans normally lives in the mouth, in balance with other microorganisms, such as bacteria.
Certain factors or conditions may cause an overproduction of candida albicans. Among them include antibiotics and a weakened immune system. Candida albicans can also cause imbalance in the vaginal flora if not treated. This infection is transmitted from mother to baby during a natural birth.
Candida albicans can also cause breast infections and can be transmitted to the baby during breastfeeding. Thrush is treatable in healthy people. However, oral candidiasis may occur and be more difficult to treat in people with a weakened immune system due to conditions such as HIV / AIDS, diabetes or those who use drugs, steroids or chemotherapy.
In these cases, complications of oral candidiasis can be life-threatening for the patient. Oral candida infections can also be the result of serious illness or undiagnosed diseases such as HIV / AIDS or diabetes. It will require emergency care for such recurrent infections.
Children and adults
Initially, oral candidiasis symptoms are difficult to observe. Depending on the underlying causes, signs and symptoms may develop suddenly and may persist for a long time. These can include:
- A film or creamy lesions on the tongue, inner cheeks, palate, gums and even tonsils;
- Deposits or cheesy-looking lesions;
- Spotting when the lesions are rubbed or scratched;
- Redness and cracks in the corners of the mouth (especially in denture wearers);
- Feeling of foreign body (film) in the mouth;
- Loss of taste.
In severe cases the lesions can spread to the esophagus and can extend up to the back of the mouth to the stomach (esophageal candida). If this happens the patient may experience difficulties swallowing pieces, feeling that pieces of food are stuck in the throat.
Infants and nursing mothers
In addition to lesions of the oral cavity, specific, infants may have difficulty feeding and be agitated. Even they can transmit the infection to mothers during breastfeeding. The infection will rebroadcast into their oral cavity by breastfeeding. Women whose breasts are infected with candida albicans may have the following symptoms:
- Red nipples unusually sensitive to touch and sharp sensation of itching;
- Glowing skin of areola;
- Unusual pain during nursing or painful nipples between feedings.
Candida albicans infection can occur when the immune system is weakened by a condition or due to the use of drugs. Naturally, the immune system rejects harmful invading organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi maintaining a balance between the good and the bad. However, sometimes the protection mechanisms fail and various types of infections arise.
There are several diseases that predispose to the development of oral candidiasis:
- HIV / AIDS – this condition destroys or affects immune cells, making the patient’s body more susceptible to the appearance of the opportunistic infections to which the body would normally resist. Repeated crises oral candidiasis may be the first sign of HIV infection.
- Cancer – if a person has cancer, immune system may be weakened by illness and treatments (chemotherapy, radiation). Both the disease itself and treatment may increase the risk of infections such as oral candidiasis.
- Diabetes mellitus – if a person suffers from untreated diabetes mellitus of if the disease is not controlled, saliva may contain large amounts of sugar that encourages candida albicans development.
- Fungal vaginal infections – these are caused by the same fungus that triggers oral candidiasis.
5. Risk factors
Anyone can develop oral thrush, but the infection is most common in certain people. Risk factors include:
- A compromised immune system;
- Wearing dentures;
- Presence of other conditions such as diabetes, anemia or dry mouth;
- The use of drugs (antibiotics or oral or inhaled corticosteroids);
- Chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer treatment;
Oral candidiasis is rarely a serious problem for children and healthy adults, although it can recur even after being treated. For people with a compromised immune system, however, oral candidiasis can have negative consequences:
- The possibility that fungal infection to spread to other parts of the body, including the digestive tract, lungs and liver;
- More severe symptoms can occur, especially in the mouth and esophagus, while the feeding process becomes painful and difficult;
- The infection can spread to the intestines and the absorption of nutrients may be affected.
7. Lifestyle and home remedies
Here are some suggestions that may be useful for improving or preventing oral candidiasis:
- Maintaining proper oral hygiene – will brush your teeth at least twice a day and use floss at least once a day. It will replace your toothbrush frequently until the infection is gone. Electric brushing might be more easily done. Avoid mouth water or mouth sprays that can alter the normal flora of the mouth. Do not use another person’s toothbrush.
- Will be gargling with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water).
- Will use cotton pads for breastfeeding – if the mother breastfeeds and has a fungal infection, using of nursing pads will help prevent the spread of fungus on his clothes.