Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by a common organism – candida albicans. While this type of candida is normally present in small quantities in your mouth and gut, it only becomes annoying once it grows out of proportions – a process called candida overgrowth.
This condition is most common in people with a weak immune system, either from birth, or as a result of an immune disease such as cancer or AIDS.
However, under certain circumstances, healthy adults can get it, too.
One of these circumstances is stress.
How does stress cause thrush?
The first thing that you need to understand about candida albicans is that it’s entirely dependent on the rest of the organisms in your mouth and gut.
And those organisms are dependent on you.
More specifically, on your diet, and on the way you process what you eat.
Candida albicans thrives in environments where the rest of the healthy bacteria have diminished, and it loves sugars and yeasts.
Being under stress generally leads to either not eating enough or overeating, and it usually makes people crave sweets.
Poor diet and sweets are exactly what candida albicans thrives on.
Eating poorly will diminish the number of healthy bacteria in your mouth, and excess sugars will feed the candida colonies. In time, this will lead to oral thrush – and you’ll notice those creamy, white patches beginning to appear.
Since stress affects the way you digest food, this imbalance will likely affect your gut, too. This means that you’ll probably experience yeast infections on other parts of your body, too, such as your genitals or your throat.
What can I do?
The first thing you’ll need to do is to treat your thrush.
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.
Once you’ve treated your infection, you’ll need to address the factors that stress you. That’s entirely dependent on you, but meditation, exercise, and socialization will likely reduce the stress, thus reducing the risk of getting thrush again.
Taking care of your diet is also essential. Avoid sugars and yeasts, since they help the candida colonies grow, and add probiotic bacteria into your diet, preferably from natural sources such as yogurt and cheese. Get your proteins from grains, legumes and lean meats and avoid anything too hard, too hot or too spicy.
Stress may cause thrush in healthy adults, since it affects both the eating habits and the digestive processes. It’s best to address your doctor as soon as you notice the first symptoms, so as to start the treatment as soon as possible. Controlling your stress and taking care of your diet will reduce the risk of getting thrush.