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Symptoms of Thrush in the Mouth

written by: Laura Latzko • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 2/28/2011

Oral thrush, a type of yeast infection, develops when candida albicans, a type of fungus, starts to grow in their mouths. Thrush mouth symptoms, such as white lesions in the mouth, usually are not harmful. Antifungal medications often help clear up oral thrush.

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    Description

    Oral thrush is an oral infection that is caused by the candida albicans fungus. Although people generally have this type of fungus in their mouths, it causes an infection when it spreads. The condition is considered a type of yeast infection. Oral thrush is most common among people with dentures, compromised immune systems or diabetes.

    People with HIV, AIDs or cancer often develop oral thrush; oral thrush is also widespread among babies and elderly individuals. Sometimes newborns develop oral thrush when their mothers have vaginal yeast infections and pass the Candidad albicans fungus to their babies. Oral thrush is usually not a serious condition, even in babies, and people can usually treat it at home. The infection and its symptoms are usually more serious in people with HIV, AIDs or cancer because the infection can spread quickly to other parts of their bodies, such as their lungs, due to their weakened immune systems.

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    Symptoms

    The most common thrush mouth symptoms are lesions that are white in color and have a texture similar to cottage cheese. The lesions usually appear within the mouth, on the tongue or on the cheeks. People with oral thrush often have painful or sore sensations in their mouths, problems swallowing food, cracked skin within their mouths, feelings of dry mouth and problems tasting anything. Some people with oral thrush experience minor bleeding in their mouths if something rubs against their lesions. Babies with oral thrush are sometimes reluctant to breastfeed or are ill-tempered.

    If oral thrush lesions spread and develop within the esophagus, patients can get a fever, according to MedicineNet. Mothers who have oral thrush, especially those who are breastfeeding, sometimes also have painful or itchy sensations on their nipples or pain on their breasts. Certain women have vaginal yeast infections at the same time as oral thrush. Oral thrush is usually not serious if it lasts for a period of two weeks or less. Some people develop reoccurring forms of thrush or have more severe forms of thrush that last for months at a time.

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    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Doctors can often diagnose oral thrush in patients after performing a physical examination because oral white lesions usually signal they have oral thrush. Some physicians take tissue samples of people’s lesions and send them to labs to determine if the cause of their lesions is Candida albicans or another causal agent, especially if patients have severe forms of oral thrush that have spread to their esophagi.

    Most doctors prescribe antifungal drugs, such as fluconazole , for adults and babies with oral thrush; patients usually receive creams, drops, lozenges or oral medications. Some people do not require medical treatment, as their lesions go away without medication. Eating yogurt or taking acidophilus pills can sometimes help people to get over oral thrush more quickly, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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    Prevention

    People can often prevent oral thrush from developing by maintaining good dental health, which means brushing and flossing their teeth everyday and visiting their dentists at regular intervals. Avoiding certain foods, such as those with high sugar and yeast contents, can also help in preventing oral thrush. Some doctors have patients with recurrent forms of oral thrush use antifungal drugs as a preventive measure, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Mothers can prevent oral thrush in babies by frequently cleaning items that their babies have in their mouths, such as pacifiers or artificial nipples.

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    References

    “Dental Health and Thrush,” MedicineNet, http://www.medicinenet.com/thrush/article.htm

    “Oral Thrush,” MedicaLook, http://www.medicalook.com/Mouth_diseases/Oral_thrush.html

    “Oral Thrush,” Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/oral-thrush/DS00408

    “Thrush,” U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000626.htm

    “Oral Thrush,” Patient UK, http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Thrush-Oral.htm

    “What Is Oral Thrush in Babies?,” Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/179069.php