What is oral thrush?

An oral thrush is a fungal infection affecting the mouth. It is not a contagious condition and effectively managed using antifungal medications. This is generally caused by a group of yeast specifically Candida.

What are the indications?

  • White patches in the mouth that might be wiped away, leaving behind reddened areas that might minimally bleed
  • Redness within the mouth and throat
  • Loss of taste or a foul taste in the mouth
  • Painful, burning sensation in the mouth
  • Cracks at the mouth corners

In some instances, these symptoms can disrupt with normal eating and drinking.


Painful, burning sensation in the mouth.

What is the cause?

The Candida fungus is naturally present in the mouth and digestive tract of most humans in low numbers. They do not trigger any issues but can lead to oral thrush if they reproduce.

There are various reasons why this can occur such as:

  • Under a course of antibiotics especially over an extended period or at high doses
  • Smoking
  • Using inhaled corticosteroid medication for asthma
  • Dry mouth due to a medical condition or caused by medications currently taking
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Using dentures especially those that do not properly fit
  • Under radiotherapy or chemotherapy for cancer

Infants, young children and the elderly are at high risk for oral thrush as well as those with underlying conditions such as HIV, diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid.

Management of oral thrush

Oral thrush is typically managed effectively using antifungal medications. These are available in liquid or gel form that is applied directly inside the mouth, but capsules or tablets can be used as well.

The topical variant is generally used several times throughout the day for 7-14 days. The capsules or tablets are taken once a day. Remember that these medications do not have any side effects although some can trigger vomiting, nausea, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain.


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