What's That White Spot In My Throat?
Have you ever been diagnosed with Thrush? Thrush is a yeast infection that most commonly develops in your throat. Its common in adults who use inhalers, or have dentures, as well as in infants and toddlers. In general thrush is not a serious problem as long as you are healthy and treat it early. It can become more serious for those who have a weakened immune system, as it can spread to other parts of your body increasing risk of more serious complications.
It is caused by an over growth of Candida albicans (C. albicans). Candida albicans is a fungus that is normally found in many areas of our bodies including the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. If controlled it can live without causing harm, but if it multiplies then it can cause an infection in any of the above areas. This fungus usually only multiplies when there is a change in the environment due to a weakened immune system. The list below includes the most common risk factors for people who may experience thrush.
Thrush Is Commonly found in people who:
1. Wear Dentures
2. Cancer treatment- Radiation and Chemotherapy
3. Have Diabetes- due to high blood sugar levels
4. Have HIV/AIDS
6. Medications- especially those that cause dry mouth
7. Use inhalers or other corticosteroids
8. Taking antibiotics
9. Infants and Toddlers esp. those under one month old
There are many common symptoms that people experience with thrush. Many of these symptoms can also be mistaken for a simple sore throat or strep throat. If your symptoms are not going away contact your PCP or dentist, as anti-fungal medications are sometimes needed to help kill the fungus. Doctors can sometimes tell just by looking at your mouth, or doing a throat culture, and sometimes a biopsy may be needed to diagnose.
The most common symptoms:
1. White patches on the inner cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and throat
2. Redness or Soreness
3. Burning in your mouth
4. Cotton- like feeling in the mouth
5. Loss of taste
6. Pain while eating or swallowing
7. Cracking and redness at the concerns of the mouth
There are many home remedies to help treat oral thrush but, in some cases, you may need an anti-fungal medication. These anti-fungal medications include pills, lozengers, mouthwashes and creams. Generally, once you start treatment the thrush will go away within a couple of weeks. When recovering make sure you practice good oral hygiene and change your toothbrush after you finish treatment. A few additional tips are; avoid non-antimicrobial mouthwashes & sprays (unless prescribed or recommended by your doctor or dentists) and if you have dentures make sure you properly clean and soak them. If you are an adult and you find that you are commonly experiencing thrush you may want to have your PCP evaluate for any underlying medical conditions. Your doctor or dentist may recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent it from coming back. They may also recommend some home remedy mouthrinses and eating yogurt that contains beneficial bacteria or taking a probiotic. Although it’s common in infants be sure to discuss with your baby’s pediatrician before giving any supplements or home remedies.
Home Remedy mouthrinse include;
2. A mix if water and baking soda
3. A mix of water and lemon juice
4. A mix of water and apple cider vinegar
Additional Recommendation for people who have one of the common risk factors:
1. If you have dentures- take them out before you go to bed, clean them daily, make sure they fit properly, and see you dentist at least once a year for an exam.
2. If you use an inhaler or any corticosteroid- rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after using it.
3. If you have diabetes- manage your blood sugar levels
4. If you have dry mouth- make sure your drinks lots of water and use dry mouth products such as act dry mouth.
Thrush can be contagious and can be passed through saliva especially when kissing. You can also pass thrush to another person during oral sex or vaginal sex. If you are pregnant and have a vaginal yeast infection that can be passed to your baby during delivery, they do a test for this during your pregnancy. If you are breast feeding or have a nipple infection you can also pass the fungus to your baby. Remember that C. albicans is commonly found in our environment so if you develop a yeast infection it does not mean you got it from someone else.
Are you breastfeeding?
When breastfeeding be aware that the same fungus that causes oral thrush causes yeast infections on your breast and nipples. The fungus can get passed back and forth between a mom and her baby. If your baby develops oral thrush or you get a nipple or breast infection make sure you get treatment right away for both of you. Your doctor may recommend an anti-fungal medication for your baby and a cream for your breast (make sure you wipe off before feeding baby). Make sure you keep your nipples clean and dry before feedings and also make sure you sterilize all your babies’ pacifiers, teething rings, bottles, pumping pieces, and anything else they put in their mouths. Babies experience the same symptoms as adults and may also experience difficulty feeding, may be irritable or fussy.
Here are some symptoms you may develop if you are experiencing a yeast infection on your breast:
1. Pain in your breast, during and after breastfeeding
2. Itchiness or burning sensation around your nipples
3. White or pale spots around your nipples
4. Shiny skin around your nipples
5. Flaking skin on or around your nipples
If you’re an adult and you have any of the above risk factors make sure you take the steps to prevent oral thrush on a daily basis and change your lifestyle if needed. Although Oral thrush typically does not cause any life threaten problems for the average healthy adult, you want to make sure you talk with your doctor or dentist if find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms. It’s best to treat it early, to protect yourself and decrease risk of transmitting to others.