Thrush, also known as candidiasis or moniliasis, is basically an oral infection caused by any fungus belonging to the Candida species, especially a fungus akin to yeast and known as Candida albicans. This particular fungus may also be responsible for other conditions, including vaginal yeast contagions (vaginitis) and diaper rash. Generally, thrush occurs to children who are below the age of six months. This disease is not very common in older children. The occurrence of thrush may be an indication of a more serious ailment, for instance an immune deficiency.
Individuals suffering from thrush have white, scaly, unpleasant-looking patches all over their mouth or in some parts of their tongue and gums, inside the cheeks and occasionally also on the lips. Usually, the patches formed due to thrush do not flake off without problems. When one picks or scratches the patches, they leave behind a reddish and inflamed region that may also bleed. Even milk curds have an appearance similar to thrush, but the curds can be scratched off without much effort and they do not leave any painful area. The pain caused by thrush is likely to create eating problems for the patient. When it occurs to small children, they may even lose their appetite.
Generally, thrush is self-limiting, as it does not spread to large areas, but it requires careful treatment in order to keep away from a prolonged, persistent course of infection. Aggressive treatment might be essential in case the pain caused by thrush keeps your child from taking adequate amounts of fluids. Remember, inadequate feeding may often result in dehydration and deficiency of nourishments. In case you are breast feeding your baby, it is likely that the child may transmit the thrush to one or both the nipples. When nipples are infected with thrush, they become red, distended and sore. In some cases, the skin over the nipple may even rupture owing to the infection. Such patients are also likely to experience itching, burning and scaling.
Women whose breast is infected by Candida have exceptionally reddish, susceptible or scratchy nipples. In addition, areola (the darker region encircling the nipple) becomes glistening or scaly. Such women also experience intense pain while breast feeding or the nipples become sore between feedings. They also experience a piercing pain deep inside the breast.
In extremely acute cases, lesions or abrasions formed in the mouth may extend toward the esophagus - the elongated, well-developed tubular organ that extends from the back of the mouth to the stomach. When people suffer from this condition (Candida esophagitis), they are likely to find it difficult to swallow anything or have a feeling that the ingested food is getting caught in their throat.
Call your physician immediately, in case you or your child is infected by thrush and it is accompanied by fever, stomach disorder and/ or cough. Such symptoms may be an indication of a weak immune system.
Oral thrush may affect any individual, but, as mentioned before, this disease is more likely to affect infants below the age of six months and also individuals who wear dentures (artificial teeth), have a weak immune system or use inhaled corticosteroids. In healthy people oral thrush is a trivial health problem. However, if the immune system of an individual is weak, the symptoms of this fungal infection are likely to be very serious and may often become difficult to treat.
Oral thrush as well as other forms of Candida infections may take place when the immune system of an individual is compromised owing to ailments or even medications, for instance prednisone. Additionally, even taking antibiotics randomly may upset the normal balance of microorganisms present in one's body.
Generally, our immune system functions to ward off detrimental microorganisms that invade our body, for instance, bacteria, viruses and fungi, whilst sustaining an equilibrium between the ‘beneficial' and ‘harmful' microbes that usually dwell in our body. However, at times, this protective system fails allowing an oral thrush infection to occur.
There are a number of ailments that have the aptitude to make an individual further susceptible to Candida infections causing oral thrush. Some of these ailments are discussed in brief below.
Supplements and herbs
A number of herbs and supplements are known to be effective in treating oral thrush or any other Candida infections. For instance, an extract obtained from the seeds of grapefruit is extremely effective in lessening the yeast in the intestinal tract of a nursing mother. For best results, a nursing mother may take a dose of 250 mg of the extract every day. Alternately, she may also take 10 drops of the extract in one cup of water twice or thrice every day for a period of two to three weeks.
In addition, it has been found that the gel of aloe vera possesses antifungal attributes. Wet your finger in aloe vera gel and apply the gel to the thrush twice or thrice every day till the infection is healed completely. You may also use any product containing aloe vera to heal the thrush. In addition to grapefruit seeds and aloe vera, garlic is also known to be effective for treating thrush or any other Candida infection. Garlic possesses attributes to combat yeast, while it may also occasionally cause colic (violent outburst of abdominal and abdominal pain). Nursing mothers who have developed Candida infection on their breast may take one unscented garlic capsule twice every day for a period of two to three weeks continuously.
Even ginger tea is known to possess antifungal and antibacterial properties. Hence, a nursing mother infected by Candida may take a cup of ginger tea with meals.
Additional things you may do
Besides trying modern medicine, herbs and supplements, you may also undertake a number of other measures that may help you to overcome an occurrence of oral thrush. Some of the additional things that you may do in such situations are listed below.
Follow good oral hygiene: Practicing good oral hygiene is important to prevent as well as cure oral thrush. For this, you need to brush your teeth at least two times every day and essentially floss once every day. At the same time, you need to change your toothbrush at regular intervals till the infection is completely healed. In case you have any problem regarding the strength and agility in your hands, you may use an electric toothbrush as it would make brushing simpler and effortless. It is important to keep away from using sprays and/ or mouthwash when you have an oral thrush, for they have the potential to change the natural flora in your mouth. Most importantly, never share your toothbrush with anyone.
Take warm saline water rinses: Saltwater rinses help to heal oral thrush faster. Liquefy half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of salt in one cup (237 ml) of warm water and whoosh the rinse and subsequently spit it out. Never swallow the rinse.
In addition, yogurt is also known to be an effective home remedy for oral thrush. Dip your finger in yogurt and take out some of it and give it to your baby, who has developed oral thrush, to suck it. Alternately, you may also coat the yeast patches in the baby's mouth with yogurt. Women who have developed the infection on their breast may use a cotton swab to apply yogurt on their nipples. However, remember to cleanse the nipples before you breast feed your baby. Once you have applied yogurt with the swab, discard it and wash your hands carefully to ensure that you do not taint the yogurt with thrush.
You may also prepare a solution of baking soda using one teaspoon of the substance in eight ounces (one glass) of water. If your baby has developed oral thrash, use a cotton swab to smear the solution on the inner sides of his/ her cheeks, tongue and gums every time after breast feeding. It is important to make a fresh solution daily and stir it properly before using it every time. Another good home remedy for treating thrush is a vinegar solution. You may also prevent the thrush from persisting on your nipples by washing the nipples with a solution prepared by adding one teaspoon of vinegar to one cup of water. This solution should also be prepared fresh every day.
There are a number of other home remedies to treat thrush. Soak plantain seeds in sufficient water so that they remain submerged in water and leave them till they become swollen. This may be an overnight process. The resultant substance is akin to a gel which can be applied on the yeast patches or the areas affected by thrush. You may collect the plantain seeds without much effort during the fall.
Even as you or your child continue to endure thrush, ensure that you make it a routine to wash your hands quite often. In order to obtain the optimum results, wash your hands each time you touch your baby's mouth or your nipples.
In addition, you may also try using acidophilus tablets and massage the powder on the areas affected by thrush. You may also try using calendula tincture - apply it on the infected areas for speedy healing.
Other beneficial herbs