​Oral Thrush

Oral Candidiasis (also called oral thrush)​ is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus, also known as yeast. Oral thrush causes creamy white lesions to form in your mouth, most often on your tongue and your inner cheeks. It may also spread to the roof of your mouth, inner lip region, gums, tonsils, or to the back of your throat. 

Noramlly, small amounts of the candida fungus are present in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. They are usually kept in check by other bacteria and microorganisms in the body. However, certain illnesses, stress, or medications can disturb the delicate balance, causing the fungus candida to grow out of control and causing thrush.

Medications that upset the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and may cause oral thrush include:

  • Corticosteroids

  • Antibiotics

  • Birth control pills

Illnesses or medical situations that make candida infection more likely include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • HIV infection

  • Cancer

  • Dry mouth

  • Hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy

Oral thrush can affect anyone of any age, though it occurs most often in babies and toddlers, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.​ People who smoke or wear dentures that don't fit properly also are at increased risk for thrush. In addition, babies can pass the infection to their mothers during breast-feeding. ​​This disease is not contagious, and may not be a major cause for concern if you are generally healthy. Furthermore, it is usually successfully treated with antifungal medication. 

If you or your child suffers from symptoms of oral thrush, the Teeth and Skin services​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital will be able to assist and assist and treat you effectively​.  

You may not notice the signs of oral trush right away. Depending on the reason behind the disease, symptoms may slowly develop and become more noticeable, or they may appear suddenly. These symptoms may only be apparent for a few days, or else they may persist for a few weeks or month. Some indicators and signs may include:

  • Creamy white patches of plaque on the inside of the mouth. This can be wiped  or scraped away but it leaves behind red areas that may bleed slightly

  • Slightly raised lesions that somewhat resembles cottage cheese

  • A white tongue

  • Altered, unpleasant or loss of taste in the mouth

  • Bad breath

  • A dry mouth

  • Sourness in the teeth

  • Redness on the inside of the mouth and throat

  • Cracks and redness on the corners of the mouth

  • A cotton like feeling in your mouth

Sometimes these symptoms can make it difficult to eat or drink and you may feel like your food is getting stuck in your throat midway.​​​

You should visit your doctor or dentist as soon as you can if you notice that you or your child has started to develop painful white lesions in the mouth.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms such as a fever, shaking or chills, or trouble with eating and swallowing. These symptoms are indicative of a more serious case of trust where the infection has spread to the esophagus, which leads down to the stomach.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit before​hand. H​ere ​(hyperlink) are some tips to help get you started. ​​​

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose oral trush just by a simply examination of yours or your child’s mouth. The infection usually causes distinctive white lesion on the mouth, tongue or cheeks.

However, sometimes they may examine a small sample of the lesions under a microscope. If oral trush is found in teenagers or adults, the doctor may also conduct further physical exams or ask for blood tests to asses if there is another underlying cause of the symptoms of oral trush, such as diabetes or nutritional deficiencies.​

In more serious cases where it is suspected that oral trush has spread to the esophagus, your doctor may ask for a throat culture. This is where a sample of tissue is taken by swabbing the back of the throat with sterile cotton, and then examined to see what is causing the symptoms. The may also conduct an endoscopic exam to examine your esophagus, stomach and the upper part of the small intestine (the duodenum), by using a small camera attached to the tip of a flexible tube. X-rays of the esophagus can also help with the diagnosis process.​

The aim of treatment for oral trush is to prevent the spread of infection. Treatment will depend on the age, overall health and the cause of symptoms of the patient. Treatment options include:

  • Antifungal medication – this can be in the form of lozenges, tablets or a liquid. These are usually used for a period of between seven to fourteen days.

  • Mild antifungal medication and antifungal cream – if you and your child are passing oral trush back and forth during breastfeeding, your doctor may prescribe a mild antifungal medication for your baby and an antifungal cream for your breasts.​​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.