Causes and Symptoms of Oral Thrush
Mouth ulcers are a common occurrence and normally get healed with time on their own. However, there could be times when you would notice a strange rash that is white in color inside your mouth. This condition is known as thrush. It is a condition that is triggered by an infection, which is a result of the yeast candida fungus. Thrush could occur in the mouth and various other parts of the body, as well. In the case of infants, it can also result in a diaper rash or a vaginal yeast infection in women.
Thrush can happen to anybody, but infants, senior adults, and persons suffering from compromised immunity levels are known to suffer most from this condition.
What is Oral Thrush?
Oral thrush is a medical condition that occurs due to an overgrowth of the candida yeast in the oral region, i.e. in the lining of the mouth. As a normal composition, there occurs a certain amount of fungi candida in the mouth; within a normal range, this causes no issues. However, when the composition of these bacteria in the mouth is altered, it causes an overgrowth of the yeast, which eventually spreads to the other parts of the mouth, including the top of the mouth, tonsils, tongue, and roots of the teeth. This can eventually cause white rashes or lesions that can become more severe, along with redness and some amount of bleeding, as well. When not treated on time, oral thrush can get complicated, eventually impacting the immune system of a person, which can cause further infections and diseases to take over.
There are a number of ways in which the overgrowth of the candida yeast can be corrected through use of medicines, as well as some natural home remedies. These help in getting the pH balance of the body corrected so as to restore the levels of thriving microorganisms in the body.
What Are the Main Causes of Oral Thrush?
1. A Weak Immune System
The most important reason behind oral thrush is a compromised immune system, which is the main reason why this infection normally strikes infants and older people. Certain health conditions and medicines can cause a disturbance in the healthy balance of fungi living in our mouth, skin, and digestive tract, which can eventually lead to an overgrowth of the candida microorganism in the system.
Several medical conditions can impact the immunity levels in a person, which in turn makes him or her more susceptible to infections and various diseases.
Some medicines, such as birth control pills, hormonal tablets, antibiotics, and steroids, can cause some alteration in the balance of microorganisms thriving in the mouth region. Birth control pills are known to cause multiple effects in the body, which could pose a risk of the candida infection to develop. For a few women, birth control pills can cause a certain hormonal imbalance in the body that can result in the growth of yeast infections and allow the candida infection to grow in the body.
Corticosteroids are normally used by people who are suffering from asthma. Corticosteroids could also be a problem and cause a risk of developing candida, particularly in the mouth.
There are several studies that were conducted to prove how antibiotics can impact the balance of good bacteria in the body, which eventually causes the candida to flourish.
3. Treatments for Cancer
Patients suffering from cancer are at an increased risk of acquiring the candida infection due to the intensity of the disease and its treatment methods. Treatment methods, including radiations and chemotherapy, make the body weak from inside, including the immune system. This causes various harmful microorganisms to grow and flourish in the body.
People suffering from uncontrolled diabetes have high levels of sugar in their body, including the body secretions like saliva. High glucose levels present in the body act as a favorable opportunity for the candida to grow and flourish in the body, since the yeast feeds on the sugar. Thus, people suffering from diabetes are always at a higher risk of suffering from oral thrush.
5. Use of Dentures
It is very easy for sugar and bacteria to build up on dentures, even if they are removed and cleaned periodically. This provides a positive atmosphere for bacteria to grow and thrive in the mouth, especially if the person is also consuming large amounts of antibiotics or has high levels of sugar in the body.
What are the Symptoms of Thrush?
The different types of thrush are likely to have different symptoms. The following are the symptoms of oral thrush:
- Plaques or white patches all over the mouth that can leave some red areas in the mouth that may even bleed.
- Loss of tasting ability or the leaving behind of an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Red patches inside the mouth all the way up to the throat.
- Cracks and breakouts around the corners of the mouth.
- Painful and burning sensation occurring in the mouth.
Sometimes oral thrush can also cause difficulty in eating, drinking, or swallowing anything.
Is Thrush Contagious?
Oral thrush as a fungal infection is not contagious. The fungus that causes the thrush, called candida albicans, is already living in the mouths of everybody, including the throat. Changes in the pH levels that occur in the mouth can cause the multi-organisms to multiply and result in thrush. Although thrush is not considered to be a contagious infection, it can pass on easily from the mother to the child and from the baby to the mother. The baby can develop oral thrush and pass it to the mother’s nipples while breastfeeding, which can lead to pain and redness of the skin, along with cracking. A mother can also develop the thrush infection on her nipples that can become painful and cause redness when taking antibiotics. She can thereby pass on the infection to the child while breastfeeding. The period of incubation for oral thrush is around two to five days.
Foods That Can Help Heal Oral Thrush
There are some foods and natural remedies that are helpful in treating oral thrush. These include:
- Cinnamon: People who consume cinnamon as a part of their everyday diet are less likely to suffer from oral thrush as compared to those who don't have this spice in their diet. Cinnamon is known for its anticandidal properties that help in preventing the growth of the candida yeast in the mouth.
- Essential oils: Essential oils, like oil of oregano, are the most natural and powerful way of treating oral thrush. They have antibiotic and antifungal properties, which are helpful in restoring the pH levels in the body and helping in the growth of good bacteria in the body.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is known for its antimicrobial properties that can kill harmful bacteria by mere topical application.
- Cultured dairy: Probiotic curds and dairy products can help in keeping up the levels of good bacteria in the body, which in turn controls the growth of yeast in the body.
While thrush is not considered to be contagious in most cases, it is caused by bacterial and yeast.