Thrush
Vaginal and Oral Thrush in Women

Yeast Infections Thrush Infections

OTC Remedies for Thrush

Thrush

Contents

What Is Thrush?
Types Of Thrush
What Causes It?
How Is It Diagnosed?
How Is It Treated?


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Yeast Infection Information

What Is Thrush?

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of a yeast microorganism, most commonly Candida albicans. An infection can occur in the vagina, mouth, tongue or throat. Vaginal thrush affects more than 1.3 million American's a year and is also known as a yeast infection. Oral thrush is less common and typically attacks the very young or the very old. In fact nearly 45 percent of breastfed infants and some 60 percent of older people with dentures will develop the condition.

Types of Thrush

Vaginal Thrush

Vaginal thrush is generally what women in the UK refer to when they say they have a 'thrush' infection. In the United States it is more commonly known as a vaginal yeast infection. It is also known as a Candida infection, vulvovaginal candidosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis. The classic symptoms of a vaginal thrush infection include: Vaginal discharge, usually a white, thick discharge which is often described as cottage cheesy in appearance. It may smell sweet and bread-like. There may be itching or burning on the inside or outside of the vulva. The vulva may also appear red and swollen. Vaginal thrush is less common in girls who have not started their periods and in postmenopause women.

Oral Thrush (Mouth, Tongue & Throat)

Oral thrush (sometimes called trench mouth) is also caused by the overgrowth of Candida yeast microorganisms. A certain amount of Candida is normally present in the mouth but it is kept in check by other naturally occurring germs and bacteria. When this balance is upset, by medication or ill health for example, Candida can colonize and overgrow. Oral thrush appears as creamy yellow/white velvety lesions in patches on the tongue and on the inside the mouth wall and lips. Sometimes white spots spread down the throat, creating a burning sensation when food or drinks are ingested. There may also be altered taste sensation. If the white lesions are rubbed, red tissue appears underneath which may easily bleed. The lesions can increase in size and number unless treated. Oral thrush is more common in babies and older people, probably because their immune systems are weaker.

What Causes It?

Oral Thrush

Scientists are still not certain what causes thrush, in practice there appear to be different factors at play. A depressed immune system is often present, particularly in the instance of oral thrush. Babies and old people are more prone to the condition, as well as those taking regular antibiotics, steroids and those receiving chemotherapy for cancer or drugs to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant. People with dentures, metabolic based conditions like diabetes and those diagnosed with the HIV virus are also at greater risk.

Vaginal Thrush

Vaginal thrush can occur as a result of the over use of antibiotics or by eating a diet high in sugar and dairy products. It may also be aggravated by hormone changes, especially during pregnancy. Those with diabetes, food intolerances and stressful lives may be more prone to recurrent thrush infections. See also: Causes of yeast infections and books on yeast infections for self-help guides.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is easily diagnosed by a visual inspection. The white fungus lesions have a distinct appearance. If a doctor wishes to test further, he may take a scraping of the fungus and examine under a microscope. Alternatively a culture of the fungus may be sent to labs for further analysis.

Vaginal Thrush

A correct diagnosis for vaginal thrush infections is important, as one study showed that nearly 75 percent of women who bought an over the counter remedy had incorrectly self-diagnosed. Symptoms of vaginal thrush appear very similar to bacterial vaginitis (see types of vaginitis), but the conditions require different types of treatment. Hence, the importance of a medical diagnosis. A doctor can carry out a pelvic examination and may then send a sample of the discharge to a lab for testing. This will determine what sort of infection is present.

How Is It Treated?

Oral Thrush

The old fashioned way of treating oral thrush was to scrape away the white lesions to stop them spreading. This often left the patient bleeding and sore. Fortunately science has progressed since then. Nowadays a liquid form of anti-fungal medication is usually prescribed - that is, nystatin as a mouthwash or alternatively clotrimazole lozenges for sucking on. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body an oral anti-fungal like Diflucan or Nizoral may be given. Symptoms should clear within 5 to 10 days. Those with a mild form of oral thrush may find eating yogurt 2 or 3 times a day helps, but only in the early stages of infection. For those with diabetes, all that may be needed to cure an infection is to control blood sugar levels. If in doubt, consult a doctor. With effective treatment oral thrush can be cured. Relapse of the infection however is likely unless the underlying predisposing factors are treated. Infants should not be treated; the condition normally clears of its own accord within 14 days. Always however try to take a baby to a doctor for diagnosis within 48 hours of symptoms presenting. The doctor may prescribe anti-fungal drops for the nipples. If the baby is bottle-fed, all equipment should be thoroughly sterilized.

Vaginal Thrush

Over the counter suppositories and creams are available for treating vaginal thrush infections. Common brands in the UK include Canesten and in America Monistat and Gyne-Lotrimin. Side effects are uncommon and most OTC remedies can be used during pregnancy. If infection persists an anti-fungal drug may be prescribed by the doctor. There are 2 main types of prescription drugs: nystatin and Azole drugs, which are often used in combination with each other. The 3 types of Azole medications are Diflucan (fluconazole), Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Sporanox (itraconazole). Most bouts of thrush are caused by Candida albicans, and these medications will usually clear an infection. 10 percent of thrush cases however are caused by another strain of Candida called Candida glabrata. This particular strain is most durable and less easily treated. See how to treat thrush and yeast infection treatment for more details.

When To Consult a Doctor:

Always consult a doctor if you suspect thrush and you:

• Are Pregnant.
• Are Under 16 or over 60.
• Have symptoms which are not normal for thrush, so as foul spelling discharge or blisters on the vagina.
• Previously had a STD.
• Have abnormal bleeding of the lower abdomen or vagina.
• Had a bad reaction to thrush medication in the past.
• Had more than 2 bouts of thrush in the past 6 months and have not consulted a doctor/nurse.

  Related Articles on Thrush

For more information on candida overgrowth, see the following:

Symptoms of Yeast Infections
Natural Remedies For Yeast Infections
Yeast Infection Diet Plan

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