Thrush is an infection caused by candida fungus, forming creamy white, raised lesions in mouth, mainly on tongue and inner side of cheeks. The lesions at times can appear on roof of mouth, tonsils, gums or back of the throat. It may also occur in other regions of the body, causing vaginal thrush in women or diaper rashes in infants.
Thrush may affect anyone from babies, toddlers, younger to older adults, mostly the ones whose immune system got weakened, due to one or the other reasons. Candida fungus is normally present in the mouth, skin and digestive tract of all but is usually not harmful as its amounts are kept in check by helpful microorganisms and bacteria. During period of stress, certain illnesses or under medications, the delicate balance gets disrupted, leading to uncontrollable growth of candida, causing thrush.
Major Symptoms of Thrush
Thrush develops silently but may become chronic, if existed for long durations. During brushing of teeth, one may scrape them, resulting in bleeding. The lesions have a cottage cheesy appearance and under severe cases, can spread further into or beyond esophagus causing pain, difficulty in swallowing, sticky throat, heavy chest after eating or fever. It may reach other organs like liver, lungs and skin in individuals with immune-compromised disorders like HIV or cancer.
Many women may experience vaginal thrush at some point in their lives, majorily in their thirties or forties or during pregnancy. Vaginal thrush is caused by a yeast infection in the vagina or nearby regions. Since, Candida albicans cause this infection and therefore, is also popularly known as vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Some women may not show any sign of infection until they go for cervical smear test but in rest of the women, specific symptoms of vaginal thrush exist. Usual symptoms include redness of vagina or vulva region, irritation, soreness or itching of vulva, white cottage cheese like discharge that can be either thick or thin, but normally odorless and discomfort or pain while urinating or having sexual contact.
Potential triggers can be tight clothing that hinders adequate ventilation, bubble bath or vaginal douches, use of antibiotics or chemotherapy. Diabetes or other ailments also increases the risk of vaginal thrush in women.
Thrush Symptoms in Men
Symptoms are quite similar to those in women and the affected men show red patches on penis or foreskin, cottage cheese discharge with burning, itching or discomfort under the foreskin or at tip of penis, or discomfort while passing urine. Though, it is not considered as sexually transmitted disease but it could pass on from one partner to another during foreplay of oral, vaginal or anal sex.
In Infants and Nursing Mothers
In infants, thrush symptoms include distinctive mouth lesions, fussiness or irritability due to difficulty in having breastfeed. The infection gets easily passed on to mother, with back and forth spread of infection to baby’s mouth and mother’s breasts.
Women with infected breasts may have itchy, sensitive or red nipples, flaky, shiny skin on areola region, unusual pain while nursing, painful nipples or severe stabbing pains inside the breast.