What Is Thrush and How Do You Get It?

Reviewed on 9/1/2021

Oral thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a fungal infection inside the mouth. Triggers for oral thrush include dry mouth, certain medications, smoking, poorly fitted dentures, stress, illness, pregnancy, radiation therapy, changes in the immune system, and organ transplantation.
Oral thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a fungal infection inside the mouth. Triggers for oral thrush include dry mouth, certain medications, smoking, poorly fitted dentures, stress, illness, pregnancy, radiation therapy, changes in the immune system, and organ transplantation.

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

Most people have a small amount of Candida present in the mouth, but certain conditions can trigger overgrowth.

Triggers of Candida overgrowth include: 

The Candida fungus also causes diaper rash in babies, 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 any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • White patches on the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks, or on back of the throat that may be painful and can bleed
  • Redness inside the mouth without white patches (often in people who wear dentures)
  • Dry mouth (“cotton mouth”)
  • Unpleasant or unusual taste in the mouth
  • Feeling as if something is stuck in the throat
  • Pain when eating and swallowing
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Sore throat
  • Cracked lips
  • In babies, not wanting to feed

What Is the Treatment for Oral Thrush?

The treatment for oral thrush includes treating underlying conditions that cause the thrush, such as: 

  • Managing diabetes
  • Getting properly fitted dentures
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Stopping medications that cause thrush (do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor)

Thrush can be cured with antifungal medicines, including:

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Reviewed on 9/1/2021
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/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oral-thrush-mouth-thrush/