Thrush

In adults, thrush is most commonly associated with those who have compromised immune systems, such as those who are HIV positive, but anyone can contract thrush if the conditions are right within their body.

Despite its strange name, thrush is actually just a yeast infection found within the mouth. Infants usually come into contact with yeast when traveling through the birth canal, and some may have an underdeveloped immune system and be unable to counteract the exposure. They may also contract it from their mothers who experience hormonal changes after birth which encourage the growth of yeast. Often thrush is passed back and forth between a breastfeeding mother and her baby, resulting in an oral infection for the baby and an infection of the nipples for the mother. If a breastfeeding baby contracts thrush then both mother and child may be treated in order to prevent the disease from recurring.

Like other types of yeast infection, thrush in an adult may signify a more widespread yeast infection throughout the body. It may be related to immune system deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, or improper diet which encourages the growth of yeast. Yeast infections in both babies and adults may also result from the use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. While antibiotics are helpful in killing bacteria which are harmful to the body and cause illness, they may also eliminate the helpful “good” bacteria which are supposed to exist within the body to control the growth of yeast. When the levels of good bacteria are depleted, yeast can run rampant within the body, infecting the genitals, mouth, and other areas of the body.

Symptoms of Thrush

An oral yeast infection can be quite painful, so often the first sign of thrush in babies is resistance to feeding. Some babies will appear very hungry, but upon latching onto the breast or bottle will push it back out of their mouths and scream in pain. Adults with thrush face similar pain upon attempting to eat or drink.

Thrush is fairly easy to spot, as it will leave white patches on the tongue or insides of cheeks. These patches may have a creamy appearance and look like cottage cheese. The patches may not easily wipe off, but if they do will leave a red, inflamed area underneath that may bleed.

A breastfeeding mother whose baby suffers from thrush may also develop a yeast infection on her nipples. However, many breastfeeding mothers never contract the infection from their babies. Likewise, many breastfeeding babies are not affected by their mother’s yeast infections. This is likely due to individual tolerance to yeast within the body.

Thrush can also spread down the esophagus, causing further pain upon attempting to eat or drink.

Treatment

Treatment of an oral yeast infection will often involve a prescription anti-fungal rinse that is swished around in the mouth and then swallowed. If the case involves a breastfeeding baby and mother, they may both be treated so that recurrence can be avoided.

As with any type of yeast infection, thrush – especially when it is a chronic problem – is often a sign of an imbalance within the body which leaves the patient prone to these types of infections. While prescription medications can be effective in temporarily clearing up a yeast infection, what they really do is simply kill off the current yeast overgrowth. If the conditions within the body are not recognized and changed, thrush and other types of yeast infections can simply return over and over again. In fact, recurring yeast infections can often develop a strong resistance to the prescription anti-fungal medications which are commonly used to treat them. This can lead to more suffering down the road as the patient contracts infections which become more difficult to treat. For this reason, a natural yeast infection remedy is usually the best choice. The conditions within the body which allowed the overgrowth of yeast in the first place can be altered so that the body develops a better resistance to yeast. This will prevent further outbreaks of yeast infections and is more time- and cost-effective in the long run.