Yeast Infection Blog

candida yeast infectionsThrush Causes

"Thrush" is another name for an oral yeast infection, or oral candidiasis. It is caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Candida actually lives throughout the digestive system of many healthy people - through the mouth, esophagus, and intestinal tract. It is part of the "normal flora" of the body and doesn't necessarily cause infection.

However, when the natural balance of microorganisms in the body gets out of whack, thrush can develop. This can happen for many reasons, including immune system weakness, medical illness, or certain medications. In general, thrush causes fall into a couple of different categories:

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  1. Age. Thrush is very common in infants because their immune systems aren't yet strong enough the fight off this type of infection. It usually goes away on its own within a few weeks and is not dangerous or worrisome unless it is causing the infant a lot of pain or trouble with eating. Older adults, especially those who wear dentures, are also at increased risk for developing thrush because their immune systems are weaker and Candida can collect around the area of dentures and overgrow.
  2. A weak immune system. Even healthy adults can get thrush if their immune systems are weak and their bodies aren't as capable of keeping the population of Candida in check. This can be due to certain medications that suppress the immune system, such as systemic steroids, chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancer, or immunosuppressive medications used in transplant patients or to treat rheumatoid arthritis. A weak immune system can also be caused by medical conditions like AIDS.
  3. Medications. Apart from medications that depress immune system function as described above, there are also other medications that can disrupt the internal balance of the body and create an environment where thrush can develop. Antibiotics, for example, kill off good bacteria along with the bad, and when there are fewer bacteria there is more space for yeast to overgrow. Inhaled steroids, like asthma controller medications, will also disrupt that natural organisms of the mouth, and can lead to thrush.
  4. Certain medical illnesses. Did you know that diabetes is a common thrush cause? Diabetes leads to Candida overgrowth for two reasons: one, it weakens the immune system so you body can't fight off infections as well, including yeast infections, and two, the increased levels of glucose in the bloodstream from uncontrolled diabetes create a food source for yeast and nourish the infection.

If you get thrush, what can you do about it? Thrush can usually be easily treated with antifungal medications either in pill form or in liquid form that you swish around your mouth. If you are prone to thrush for one of the reasons described above, however, you need to minimize the risk factors also or else the infections may keep coming back after you stop taking the medication.

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