Candida is a fungal element that is present as a part of the normal flora in the mouth and GI tract in small amounts. If the balance of normal flora is disturbed, the candida may become more plentiful and then thrush or a candida infection develops.
Thrush may appear as creamy white lesions in the mouth or throat. The areas may be painful and may bleed if scraped. It is often diagnosed based on appearance, culture, or endoscopic examination.
Persons at risk for thrush include those with weakened immune systems and the very young or old. Stress, certain medications, tobacco use, ill-fitting dentures and certain medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, HIV, dry mouth or even pregnancy can increase the risk of developing thrush.
Symptoms may include painful or difficult swallowing.
Thrush is treated with antifungal medications that are available in different forms. It is important to practice good oral hygiene. Using warm salt water rinses may also be helpful.
In order to prevent thrush it is important to see your dentist regularly. Limiting foods that contain a lot of sugar or yeast that encourage the growth of candida is also important. Eating yogurt with active cultures, especially when taking certain medications such as antibiotics, may minimize your risk. After using steroid inhalers you should rinse your mouth or brush your teeth. Treat vaginal yeast infections as soon as possible. Some studies have also shown that garlic may be effective because of its antifungal/antibacterial properties. It is important to stop smoking. Avoiding mouthwashes and rinses that alter the normal flora may also be beneficial.