- When to See a Doctor
What is thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection that occurs in your mouth and throat. Under normal conditions, your body contains millions of yeast and fungi. They usually cause no harm and can be beneficial and help fight disease. A particular type of yeast, called Candida albicans, normally lives in your body without causing any problems. The other beneficial bacteria in your body keeps it from causing problems.
When the conditions inside your body change, because of medication or a weakened immune system, it can lead to the yeast growing out of control and causing thrush. Thrush is not normally an issue in a healthy body. It occurs most often in people who have a weakened immune system or are taking certain medications that kill off good bacteria.
Symptoms of thrush in adults
Thrush infections can have any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of taste
- Cottony feeling in your mouth
- White patches in your mouth, tongue, or throat
- Pain with eating and swallowing
- Cracking and redness at the corners of your mouth
Types of thrush in adults
This is the most common form of thrush. It is characterized by white patches on your mouth, tongue, or the back of your throat.
This is a less common form of thrush that usually occurs in older adults. It appears underneath upper dentures in the form of red patches.
Causes of thrush in adults
Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast Candida Albicans. Candida is always present on the skin and inside the body in the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. This normally does not cause any problems since the beneficial bacteria in your body keeps it from growing out of control.
However, if the environment in your mouth changes for any reason, it can lead to a fungal overgrowth. Some things that can lead to this include:
- Medications that reduce the number of beneficial bacteria in your body such as antibiotics, inhaled corticosteroids, and prednisone
- Radiation or chemotherapy treatments that kill healthy cells in your body
- Conditions that weaken your immune system, including HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, or leukemia
- Diabetes that is untreated or uncontrolled results in a lot of sugar in your saliva which encourages the growth of candida
- Oral conditions, including wearing dentures or having a dry mouth for any reason
When to see the doctor for thrush in adults
If you have any of the symptoms of thrush, particularly white patches in your mouth, see your doctor. Thrush will need to be treated with medication.
Diagnosing thrush in adults
Your doctor will take a medical history and do a physical exam. You will be asked about any medical conditions you have and any medications you are currently taking. It's likely that a diagnosis can be made with only an exam.
An endoscopy is a procedure that lets your doctor see your upper digestive tract with a light and a camera on a tube.
Treatments for thrush in adults
The treatment your doctor chooses for thrush will depend on how severe it is, your age, and other medical conditions you may have. Your doctor will want to treat your thrush as early as possible to prevent it from spreading and to ease the pain.
Antifungal medications are the standard treatment for thrush. Your doctor may prescribe a liquid that you swish around in your mouth and then swallow, or a lozenge. If your thrush is resistant to this type of medicine, you may need to take an antifungal medication in a pill form.
The following home remedies may help as well:
- Brush and floss twice a day.
- Replace your toothbrush after your thrush clears up.
- Disinfect your dentures to avoid reinfecting yourself.
- Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater using one teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup of water.
- Avoid using mouthwash unless your doctor has prescribed it.
Thrush will generally clear up once you start treatment, but it may return if the underlying condition goes untreated. To help prevent thrush in the future, you may want to do the following:
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly.
- Ask your doctor about using a chlorhexidine mouthwash.
- Clean and disinfect your dentures regularly, and make sure they fit well.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly after using a corticosteroid inhaler.
- Only use antibiotics if absolutely necessary.
- Get treatment for underlying conditions that make you vulnerable to thrush, such as diabetes.
Latest Infectious Disease News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Candida Infections of the Mouth, Throat, and Esophagus."
Cedars-Sinai: "Candida Infection: Thrush."
Merck Manual: "Candidiasis: Yeast Infection."
Mayo Clinic: "Oral Thrush."
Top What Causes Thrush in Adults Related Articles
Can Thrush Be Spread?Yeast infections are not always contracted through direct contact; it is possible to pass Candida overgrowth by kissing or oral sex.
Dental Health QuizTake the Dental Health Quiz to test your IQ of oral hygiene, cavities, and common tongue and gum diseases. This quiz covers healthy mouths and teeth from brushing to flossing and everything in between check-ups!
How Can I Treat My Baby's Thrush at Home?What is thrush in babies and is it dangerous? Find out how to recognize when your baby has thrush and how thrush is treated.
How Do I Know if My Baby Has Thrush?What is thrush, and how do you recognize it in your baby? Learn the signs of thrush, what causes it, and what to do for treatment.
How Do You Get Thrush on Your Tongue?Thrush is a yeast infection that occurs in the mouths of many people. Learn the signs of thrush, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Is Thrush Contagious?Thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. An infant with thrush can infect his/her mother with thrush during breastfeeding. Treatment typically involves using antifungal lozenges or mouthwash.
Your Breath and HealthBad breath causes include snoring, gum disease, acid reflux, respiratory infections, tonsil stones, diabetes, liver failure, kidney failure, H. pylori, dehydration, infections, and use of certain medications. Bad breath cures or remedies depend on the underlying cause. Some people use bad breath toothpaste or mouthwash to combat the problem.
Oral Health Problems in ChildrenOral health problems in children include thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, tooth decay, and early tooth loss. Get tips on how to prevent these problems in your child.
Thrush (Oral Candidiasis)Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the Candida fungus. Symptoms of thrush include pain or difficulty swallowing, a feeling that food gets stuck in the throat, and fever.
Oral Thrush in ChildrenYeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of a type of fungus called Candida. Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth and throat. Oral thrush and yeast infections are treated orally or topically with an antifungal antibiotic called nystatin.
Thrush: Symptoms, Treatments, and PreventionThrush is a common yeast infection caused by a yeast called Candida.The mouth and throat are one of the most common sites of Candida infections, which lead to oral thrush.