Thrush commonly refers to an infection of the mouth and throat by a yeasty fungus known as Candida. Thrush may also be used as a general term for Candida infection in any other part of the body, although this is rare. The most common strain of Candida causing a thrush is the Candida albicans, though other strains like Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis can also be instrumental in causing it.
Although small amounts of Candida are normally present in our mouth, w
hen the yeast overpopulates the oral mucosa it causes the epithelial cells to peel off in layers or scales, and thus, thrush sets in.
Thrush occurs as a layer of white or creamy deposit on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks, tonsils, palate, etc. Reddish swellings are also common. These can be painful to scrape or even to touch, and bleeding can follow. Loss of taste has also been reported.
As the bacteria spreads further down the food-tube (esophagus), symptoms like difficulty in swallowing of food can be experienced. If the fungus spreads further to other parts of the body as a systemic infection, fever sets in.
Diagnosis of thrush
Examination of the above symptoms can provide a primary evidence for thrush. Presence of Candida hyphae can be confirmed by laboratory tests on oral epithelial tissue. When thrush is suspected to spread into the oesophagus, throat culture, endoscopy of throat and throat X-rays can be conducted to confirm its presence.
Infants infected with thrush can show specific symptoms such as irritability and trouble during feeding.
What causes thrush?
Thrush can be caused by any imbalance in your body that creates a favorable environment for the Candida. A diet that hinges on sugar and carbohydrates (these feed Candida), a lifestyle that disturbs the pH balance of your body, a low immunity, lack of sleep, unhealthy stress, hygiene practices, and also transmission via contagion can lead to thrush.
Poorly controlled diabetes, hormonal fluctuations induced by menstruation, pregnancy, consumption of birth-control-pills, and injection of steroids are the other causes.
An infant can pass on thrush to the mother during breast feeding and can get it back during next feeding. This cycle can go on and the treatment of thrush would fail miserably unless this cycle is stopped.
Users of denture and tongue-pierced individuals have greater chances of catching the infection. Prolonged antibiotics which kill the beneficial bacteria of mouth, gums and gut can also cause Candida overgrowth leading to thrush.
Anti-fungal agents are often introduced in the mouth either in the form of liquids, lozenge, or topical creams. A common anti-fungal agent used in the mouth is the gentian violet. While such agents can be effective temporarily, a consolidated treatment for thrush rests in restoring the natural balance of your body, and using natural anti-fungal agents to combat the yeast.
Natural remedial agents like raw, crushed garlic, yoghurt, kefir, pure, extra-virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and raw, crushed turmeric can alleviate thrush symptoms without any side-effects. This way, you also eliminate the chances that the fungus develops resistance to the chemical agents.
Thrush treatment is especially difficult in immunologically compromised patients, such as patients with HIV positive. In such cases, anti-fungal chemicals may be intravenously induced in the body (i.e. injected through veins).
Diabetic patients need to keep their sugar levels in control to combat thrush. While oral thrush itself is not fatal, it can spread as systemic infection to the other parts of your body which is reported to cause morbidity and mortality in humans.
- Adopt good oral hygiene.
- Avoid all mouthwashes or sprays.
- Limiti all sugar and yeast-containing foods.
- Quit smoking and drinking.
Thrush due to Candida overgrowth in mouth simply indicates that there’s some imbalance in your body that you need to set right. It is caused by a host of factors covering your entire physical and emotional well-being, and unless you treat these imbalances holistically, you are inviting thrush again and again to your system. Holistic treatment is the best way to cure thrush as it addresses your immunity, your pH balance, your nutritional gaps, the accumulated toxins in your body and all such factors that trigger thrush. Holistic treatment also works in alignment with the natural functioning of the body and does not cause any side-effects.