How to spot and treat oral thrush

What is oral thrush

Oral thrush is an infection in the mouth usually caused by the fungus (yeast) Candida albicans.

Anyone can develop oral thrush, but it is more common in babies and older people. Candida is kept at bay by a fine balance of conditions in the mouth. When this balance is upset, either through an underlying condition or the use of medications, the candida can grow more quickly and create an infection. 

Some factors that make a person more likely to develop thrush include an iron or vitamin B deficiency, ill-fitting or poorly cleaned dentures, smoking, inhaled corticosteroids for asthma or COPD, and antibiotics. 

Oral thrush is usually quite easy to identify and symptoms may include a white or cream-coloured patch, or a red and sore patch on the tongue, inside of the cheeks or roof of the mouth.

For most people, oral thrush is mild and can be resolved either by:

  • Warm salt water rinses with half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water. Rinse and spit out, don’t swallow.
  • Sterilisation of dummies, bottles and teats.
  • Oral antifungal medication (prescription only).

If your doctor prescribes an antifungal medication, your Life Pharmacist can explain how to use it properly and discuss whether probiotics might be helpful in preventing future infections. 


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