What is thrush? What are the symptoms of thrush?

By | 16 May 2021

Many types of bacteria and fungi are in a balance in the natural flora of the body, and diseases do not occur unless this balance is disturbed. However, if this balance is broken for any reason, infectious diseases occur when a bacterium or fungus species wins and begins to multiply and increase its number very quickly. One of them is oral thrush, which is a fungal disease. Thrush is a fungal infection that occurs in the mouth and can be seen in individuals of all ages, but generally affects infants and children. This disease, which is common in newborn babies, causes uneasiness and refusal to suck in the baby, and occurs less frequently in babies who are exclusively breastfed.

What is thrush?

Thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth or tongue surface, is a disease caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans. It can be called oral candidiasis if it occurs in the mouth, and oropharyngeal candidiasis if it progresses to the throat. Although it is very common in infants and young children, it can also be seen in adult individuals, albeit rarely. Thrush manifests itself with white-colored layers on the inner surfaces of the cheeks and on the upper surface of the tongue. It is a mild disease and usually does not cause serious complications. For this reason, it may be difficult to notice the disease in young children and infants. However, the disease may be more severe in people with weak immune systems. After the occurrence of thrush in babies, a health institution should be consulted immediately. In case of thrush in the babies of breastfeeding mothers, the mother should also be treated, as there may be an infection in the chest due to fungi.

What are the symptoms of thrush?

Oral thrush is very mild in the initial stages and may not be noticed as it does not cause any symptoms in children. However, if the disease is not noticed, does not heal spontaneously, and is not treated, the infection may progress and begin to manifest itself with some symptoms. The most common symptoms of oral thrush are:

  • White-colored layers on the inner surfaces of the cheeks, the upper surface of the tongue, gums, throat, and tonsils
  • Mild blood leaks that occur with the scraping of the white lesions
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Pain and tenderness in areas with dense white layers
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

The occurrence of the disease in babies makes it even more difficult to notice thrush for parents who do not control their mouths. For this reason, it progresses and causes negativities such as sucking difficulty and refusal to feed despite hunger, irritability, and constant crying. Since thrush is a very common disease in infants, parents should regularly check the baby’s mouth visually to be detected at an early stage, and if they notice any symptoms of thrush, they should apply to health institutions.

What causes thrush?

The fungus called C. Albicans, which causes oral thrush is a creature found in a certain amount of the oral flora of all healthy individuals under normal conditions, living in balance with other bacterial and fungal species and forming oral flora. If the reproduction of this fungus species is out of control for any reason, it causes thrush disease to occur. The most common reason for this is the use of antibiotics. Broad-spectrum antibiotics used in the treatment of various diseases cause the death of many bacterial species in the body, making it easier to get fungal infections. In addition, applications such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy damage beneficial bacteria and healthy cells in the body, and the use of drugs that suppress the immune system reduce the power to fight disease-causing microorganisms, thus paving the way for the formation of thrush and many other fungal diseases. Diabetics are also at a greater risk of developing thrush than other individuals. Especially in patients with poorly controlled diabetes, the blood sugar level is high, so the amount of glucose in the salivary fluid is high. This, in turn, may support the growth and reproduction of the fungus C. Albicans, leading to thrush disease.

How is thrush diagnosed?

Thrush disease can be easily noticed by people because of the white lesions it causes. If the disease is noticed by the parents, a health institution should be consulted immediately. It is possible to diagnose the disease by examining the mouth and tongue surface in detail with the examination to be made by the physician. In some cases, oral samples may be taken and sent to the laboratory for examination to support the diagnosis. Since the type of agent causing the infection can be determined with this examination, the diagnosis of thrush can be made definitively. If it is not noticed or treated in the early period, thrush may progress too much and spread to the esophagus. In this case, it may be necessary to apply different diagnostic tests such as endoscopy and throat culture.

Because it is very common in infants and children and is a disease known by parents, thrush is sometimes not taken seriously enough. Incorrect practices such as manual cleaning of the formed layers are not a treatment method but can cause the spread and aggravation of the disease. In addition, although the use of carbonated water can help prevent disease, medical support should be obtained by consulting a healthcare professional after thrush occurs. Since fungi that cause thrush in babies who are breastfed will also settle on the breast surface, even if the baby heals while breastfeeding, it will be inevitable to catch the disease again, and maternal health will also be negatively affected by this situation. Therefore, both mother and baby should be treated with the help of antifungal drugs and creams.

How is thrush treatment done?

Thrush formation in the mouth and tongue is a health problem that must be cared for and treated. The content of the treatment may vary depending on the age of the patient and the severity of the disease. The main purpose of the treatment process is to prevent the reproduction and spread of the fungal species that cause the infection. With properly planned treatment, thrush usually resolves completely within a few weeks. However, as there is a risk of recurrence in the future, necessary measures should be taken to prevent this. However, it is beneficial to conduct further research on whether there is a different health problem that causes the formation of the disease in individuals who constantly recur with thrush despite their oral hygiene. The most important part of the treatment is an antifungal medication, cream, mouthwash, and lozenges. In addition to these pharmacological practices, the individual may need to pay attention to oral care and make some applications that facilitate home treatment. Soft toothbrushes should be preferred to prevent damage and bleeding of the lesions in the mouth. The toothbrush used during the illness must be changed after it heals. If dental prostheses are used, they should be cleaned very well. Diabetic patients should take the necessary precautions to keep the blood sugar level at the right level and adapt to their diet. In addition, smoking should be avoided, and no medication or cosmetic products other than mouth sprays and mouthwashes recommended by the physician should be used for treatment.

With the use of appropriate medications and correct oral care, thrush disease can be treated before it progresses and causes more serious problems. Therefore, if you or your baby develop thrush disease, you should immediately apply to a healthcare institution and start your treatment process as soon as possible in line with the physician’s recommendations.



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