Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth that’s most likely to occur in people whose immune system is weakened. That basically means that if you’re a healthy adult, you’re not likely to develop thrush.
However, even if you do get it, the treatment is simple and straight forward, and after a few treatments, it should go away on it’s own. Read on to find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of oral thrush in adult men and women.
As we’ve already mentioned, thrush is usually caused by a weakened immune system. That’s because a healthy immune systems one keeps the bacteria and fungi in your mouth – in balance.
As your immune system is weakened – for instance, if you’ve got AIDS or cancer, or if you’ve been taking antibiotics for longer periods – a certain species of fungus in your mouth, known as candida albicans, grows disproportionately, eventually leading to oral thrush.
This disproportionate growth may also be caused by other factors: improper oral hygiene, wearing dentures, smoking or taking steroids can all cause thrush. As you can see, all these factors perturb the natural balance of organisms in your mouth, favoring candida overgrowth.
The main symptoms of oral thrush are white, creamy patches in your mouth, usually on the tongue and cheek. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may also experience a burning sensation in the mouth, difficulties swallowing, and even hoarseness, if the infection has spread to your larynx and trachea.
Probably the most common treatment is to apply an anti-fungal gel (such as miconazole) or
anti-fungal drops (nystatin). Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll have to apply it four times a day over the infected regions. The typical length of such treatments is five to seven days.
Another way to treat oral thrush is taking pills. Most doctors will generally recommend this type of treatment if the condition persists after the use of nystatin or miconazole. Anti-fungal tablets contain a compound called fluconazole. You’ll usually have to take them for a week, but some severe cases may ask for longer cures of up to two weeks.
Active compounds in natural ingredients have been shown to cure oral thrush by directly affecting the candida albicans colonies in your mouth. Most of these solutions are applied locally, directly on the affected region. There is no clearly determined period of treatment, as the strength of the solution plays an important role. If your home remedy of choice seems to be ineffective after a few days of use, you may want to consult a doctor.
Some essential oils have been shown to kill candida albicans and lower the spread of thrush. The most commonly-used is coconut oil. You’ll have to apply extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected areas with a cotton swab, usually 2-4 times a day, until you’re happy with the results.
Another great home remedy is salt. Add one tablespoon of salt to one cup of water and use the mixture to gargle thoroughly. Repeat a few times a day for several days, until the symptoms are gone.
You can also use tea tree oil. Add 4/5 drops to one cup of warm water and use that to gargle thoroughly twice a day for several days, until the infection improves. Be careful not to swallow, as there may be some unpleasant side effects.
Other home remedies include yogurt, baking soda and apple cider vinegar. They’re all applied locally, and yogurt and apple cider vinegar may also be consumed, either alone or mixed with other ingredients.
There are many ways to cure thrush, from locally-applied gels or drops, to pills, or even home remedies. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may want to look for specialist help sooner rather than later, especially if you experience more severe symptoms such as mouth pain or difficulty swallowing.