What Causes Oral Thrush in Adults?

Reviewed on 3/2/2021

What Is Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-shaped fungus called Candida albicans.
Oral thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-shaped fungus called Candida albicans.

Oral thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-shaped fungus called Candida albicans. 

The Candida fungus also causes diaper rash and adults can develop yeast infections of the skin in skin folds and creases. Oral thrush is not the same as a vaginal yeast infection (moniliasis).

What Are Symptoms of Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush may not cause symptoms. When symptoms of oral thrush occur, they may include:

  • White patches on the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks, or on back of the throat 
  • Tissue under the white patches may be red, raw, and sore
  • Sometimes looks like cottage cheese
  • Lesions may be painful and can bleed
  • Redness inside the mouth without white patches (particularly in people who wear dentures)
  • Dry mouth (“cotton mouth”)
  • Pain on eating and swallowing
  • Cracked lips 
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the throat
  • Unpleasant or unusual taste in mouth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Sore throat

What Causes Oral Thrush in Adults?

Oral thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida albicans fungus in the mouth or throat. 

Triggers of Candida overgrowth include: 

How Is Oral Thrush Diagnosed?

Oral thrush is diagnosed with an oral examination by a dentist or doctor.

A diagnosis of oral thrush can be confirmed by an oral scraping in which a swab of the white substance from the tongue or cheek is taken to be analyzed. 

Other tests used to diagnose thrush suspected farther down the throat or in the esophagus include: 

What Is the Treatment for Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush in adults is treated with: 

  • Treating underlying conditions
  • Managing diabetes
  • Properly fitting dentures
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Stopping medications that cause thrush
  • Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor

Oral thrush in adults can be cured with antifungal medicines, such as:

SLIDESHOW

Mouth Problems: TMJ, Canker Sores, Painful Gums and More See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 3/2/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/thrush-the-basics?search=thrush&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/969147-overview

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/thrush/