Oral thrush (also called thrush, or oral candidiasis) is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by yeast-like fungi called Candida. Candida albicans is the most common cause of thrush.
Thrush may present on the corners of the mouth; the tongue; roof of the mouth; the gums, tonsils, inner cheek; and even the back of the throat.
Oral thrush is usually mild and rarely causes serious problems. But in people with weakened immunity it can spread to other parts of the body and cause potentially serious complications.
Types of oral thrush
Thrush may present in various forms;
- As raised whitish plaques (resembling cottage cheese or milk curds) that can be scraped off. This is the most common presentation of thrush.
- As red patches on the roof of the mouth and tongue, this form is called erythematous candidiasis.
- A form resembling the more common type (whitish plaques), but cannot be scraped off. This is called hyperplastic (chronic) candidiasis
Symptoms of thrush
- Characteristic white or yellow patches inside the mouth.
- Slight bleeding if the patch is scraped
- Soreness or burning sensation in the mouth
- Dry mouth
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- Dry, cracked skin at the corners of the mouth
- A strange and unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Red patches on the tongue or roof of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing when the back of the throat is affected
- Bad breath
What causes oral thrush?
Many species of Candida, including C. albicans, normally live on the skin, and on moist surfaces like the mouth and vagina. The population of the fungi are kept under control by good bacteria living in those body parts. But since Candida are opportunistic in nature – they can take advantage of changes in the normal flora and multiply rapidly, causing infections.
Risk factors for Candida overgrowth include antibiotics use, corticosteroid therapy (such as in asthmatics), reduced saliva, uncontrolled diabetes, etc.
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