Candidiasis in Adults & Babies

Candidiasis is a curable overgrowth of a type of fungus (yeast) called Candida. Candida is normally present in the body in small amounts. However, sometimes an imbalance occurs in the body that causes an overgrowth of this yeast. For example, a change in the normal acidity/pH of the vagina, hormonal changes, or certain medications like antibiotics or birth control pills can cause Candida overgrowth.

There are several types of candidiasis, depending on where the overgrowth occurs:

  • Candida overgrowth in the mouth or throat is called thrush.
  • Candida overgrowth on the gentials is called a yeast infection.
  • Candida overgrowth on a baby’s bottom is called a diaper rash.
  • Candida overgrowth in the blood is called candidemia. 

Thrush – Oral Candidiasis

Thrush is candida overgrowth in the mouth or throat. Typically this only occurs in babies, the elderly, or people with poor immune systems like people with AIDS or chemotherapy patients. Healthy adults do not usually get thrush.

How Dangerous is Thrush?

Thrush is usually not dangerous if treated.

Thrush and Pregnancy

Babies with thrush can pass it onto their mothers when breastfeeding.

What Causes Thrush / How is Thrush Spread?

Candida is normally present in the body in small amounts, such as on the skin, genitals, mouth, throat, and blood. Typically, thrush is caused by your own overgrowth of the candida that is normally present in the body. Therefore, it is very uncommon for thrush to be spread to another person.

Signs of Thrush

Common signs of thrush are white, raised lesions anywhere in the mouth – gums, cheeks, tonsils, back of the throat. They usually look like cottage cheese and can be painful or bleed slightly. In serious cases, thrush can cause difficulty or pain swallowing. Thrush can also spread to other areas of the body like the skin or lungs, though this is uncommon except in people with weakened immune systems.

How is Thrush Diagnosed?

Thrush is usually diagnosed by the presence of white lesions in the mouth and is confirmed by looking at a sample under a microscope. If the thrush is at the back of the throat, you may need to get your throat swabbed.

How is Thrush Treated?

Luckily, thrush is completely curable with prescription antifungal medication, usually taken for 2 weeks. This medication will kill the fungus. The medicine can either be swallowed, dissolved as a pill, or rinsed as a mouthwash. You must be seen by a doctor and be prescribed the correct specific antifungal medication to treat thrush. You cannot treat thrush on your own or with over-the-counter medication.

How can you prevent Thrush?

There is no vaccine for thrush. The best thing you can do to prevent thrush is to follow good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and regularly seeing your dentist. Avoid mouthwashes, which can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria/fungus in your mouth. Certain foods that have yeast or sugar like bread or beer can cause candida overgrowth.

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