Learning about Oral Thrush Yeast Infections

Oral yeast infections, usually called thrush, most often affect children and aging adults. However, for persons who are taking antibiotics or for those whose immune systems have been compromised by chemotherapy, radiation treatments, or diseases of the immune system such as AIDS, thrush and other oral yeast infections can occur more frequently and are sometimes a sign of a serious vulnerability to other opportunistic infections.

What is Oral Thrush Yeast Infections?

Thrush is a form of oral yeast infection that manifests as a whitish or yellowish coating of the mucus membrane and tongue. It can have an unusual odor, sometimes described as smelling like bread. Thrush sometimes has no other symptoms than the coating, but it can also produce irritating or even painful burning or itching sensations. Oral yeast infections, including thrush, have also been linked to joint pain, cravings for certain foods, and systemic infections. While yeast occurs naturally in the human body, it can sometimes increase to unhealthy levels because of antibiotic use, hormonal changes, use of birth control pills, or, as mentioned above, reduced immune response. Such increases in yeast growth can result in oral yeast infections like thrush, topical infections such as diaper rash or vaginitis, or systemic yeast infections, sometimes associated with hives, joint pain, asthma, and other, more serious conditions.

How is Oral Thrush Yeast Infections Treated?

Thrush, like other oral yeast infections and infections of other areas of the body, is treated with antifungal medications. If you believe you or your child has thrush, you should see your doctor. Your physician may prescribe Defamox, a medication available both as a pill, for systemic application, and as a mouthwash or spray, for topical application within the mouth. Nystatin is another antifungal medication that can be taken either orally or topically. In addition to medication, your doctor may also recommend some alterations in your diet to assist the body’s efforts to rid itself of thrush or other oral yeast infections. Since sugar is a necessary nutrient for yeast growth, limiting sugar intake during the course of treatment can promote a quicker recovery.

Additionally, limiting or eliminating the use of alcohol and breads (both of which contain yeast and sugars) may be of assistance. Some individuals have reported success with grapefruit extracts, grape seed oil, and other natural food products that assist the body in reducing the presence of yeast. Finally, increasing consumption of yogurt and other dairy products containing the acidophilus bacterium, a microorganism that inhibits yeast growth, can also help.