Thrush (Candidiasis)

Short introduction to one of fungal oral contagious diseases called thrush. Main symptoms, risk groups, diagnosis, treatment, causative agents.


Now for the very beginning let me introduce you to this disease. Thrush is known to be a fungal contagious disease caused by yeast of any Candida species. Therefore, due to the causative agent in medical terminology it is called candidiasis. In fact thrush is widely spread contagious disease, manifesting itself on various regions of skin and on many mucous membranes. Candida yeast is present in 80% of humans, causing no pathological conditions.  As a matter of fact heir growth is limited by the immune system and other microorganisms, competing for the same locations. However, in certain individuals, that I am going do describe later, the overgrowth of fungi might appear, manifesting in specific symptoms. The symptoms of oral candidiasis are: whitish lesions appearing as small plaque-like, milk curd growth, also a raspberry base when the plaque is removed, sore or burning and sometimes dry mouth with difficulty in swallowing. Thus, the main symptoms are inflammation and discomfort in oral cavity and this should draw our attention.

So lets move on to the complications. Even though this disease is obviously not dangerous in most cases, there still are individuals extremely susceptible for candidiasis complications. Those are patients with insufficient immune system, such as newborns, diabetics, also cancer, transplant, AIDS patients. Moreover people after intense antibiotic course are prone to catch candidiasis because, their bacterial flora is destroyed by antibiotics and so fungi may proliferate not competing with bacteria.  For these patients candidiasis might appear not only on oral mucosa but also in esophagus, alimentary tract, urinary bladder, or genitalia. Moreover in extreme cases infection might reach blood and cause deep systemic Candida inflammation, resulting even in sepsis. The kidneys, liver, spleen, brain, eyes, heart might be involved in deep candidiasis. As we can see, candidiasis might affect vital organs in patients of risk groups.

And now the last, but not the least important part is diagnosis and treatment. In most cases of oral candidiasis the symptoms and case history give all the needed information. However, any yeast infection might be also diagnosed via scraping or swab microscopic examination or culturing. Finally, common management includes chemotherapy by antifungal drugs, which are rinsed in oral cavity and then swallowed. In addition, breast feeding mothers should take care of hygiene of the nipples, not to transmit the infection to the newborn. Furthermore, extreme cases require treatment with intravenous anti-fungals. Obviously the diagnosis and treatment of this disease depends on the exact case and its difficulty.

To sum up, we can say that thrush at first sight doesn’t seem to be extremely dangerous contagious disease. But on the other hand there still are people in certain risk groups. That’s why we have to take any disease as an important threat to health. Specialists of oral cavity diseases have to pay attention on symptoms of this disease to be able diagnose it and administer the right treatment.

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  1. Beneficial thread. Thanks.

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