Caused by the fungus Candida Albicans, oral yeast infection is also known as Thrush. Yeast infections can affect other parts of the body too – the vagina most commonly but also nails, folds of skin, the anus and so on. Generally, where it’s warm and moist is the best place for the the fungus to breed.
The key causes: One of the other microorganisms that live on us are good bacteria; unlike bad bacteria which make us ill, good bacteria actually work for us keeping us healthy and helping the immune system. These good bacteria are what manage the fungus numbers to ensure an overgrowth doesn’t happen – which is what leads to a yeast infection. Unfortunately, sometimes things become unbalanced perhaps due to hormones – such as during pregnancy or perhaps due to medications or prolonged use of antibiotics, possibly due to an existing illness that has weakened your immune system such as HIV, or a treatment for cancer like chemotherapy. Other triggers that you can control more are clothing, diet and diabetes.
What Thrush looks like: It is quite recognizable when you have Thrush. White spots appear on the inside of the mouth, cheeks, tongue and possibly going back down the throat. When touched, they hurt and if scraped the area may bleed and lesions may appear. If it has spread back and to the esophagus then it may be hard to swallow and consume anything, with the feeling of food being lodged at the back all the time.
Preventing Thrush: There are things you can do to help prevent an infection of the mouth happening. Keeping excellent oral hygiene is important, which involves brushing twice a day as well as flossing. Mouthwashes are not a good idea as they upset the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and may deplete good bacteria making you more likely to get a yeast infection. Smoking is not good and if you are a smoker your odds of getting Thrush are higher.
Treatments: Yogurt is great for soothing the symptoms. Use the live bacteria kind and it will top up the good bacteria in your mouth to help fight the fungus. However you also need to deal with the root of the infection – find out what caused it in the first place and make lifestyle changes. There are over the counter treatments that can be tried, and if these do not work, visit your doctor for something stronger.