Candidiasis or oral thrush is a very common condition in babies which also affects people with diabetes, HIV, AIDS or a poor immune system. It can also occur in people who have a diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals.

Candidiasis is also seen in people who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for cancer or as a side effect of certain types of medication.

Pregnant women and smokers are also at risk as are denture wearers.

What is candidiasis?

This is a fungal infection caused by the yeast fungi ‘candida albicans’ within the mucus membranes inside the mouth.

Oral thrush is the preferred term for candidiasis which occurs in babies. Candidosis is used to describe this infection in adults.

Causes of candidiasis

This is caused by a yeast infection (Candida): the Candida yeast like many other types of fungi are present within the human body and their growth is regulated by the immune system.

But this yeast can grow unchecked by the body in people with a compromised or underdeveloped immune system. This leads to infections such as Candidiasis.

This yeast is present inside your mouth and does not cause any problem unless something occurs to change this and allows a yeast infection to develop and grow.

Symptoms of candidiasis

This infection starts off as a small white or cream deposit inside the mouth, on the gums or tongue, which spreads inside the mouth. In some cases it is inflamed and will bleed when scratched.

These thick white patches may cause a burning sensation.

Treatment for candidiasis

This will depend upon the cause of your oral thrush.

If your candidiasis is caused by ill fitting dentures then see your dentist. You may need to be measured for a new set of dentures which is not uncommon. The shape of our jawbone and gums changes as we age which means that the set of dentures that fitted you several years ago will not do so now.

Candidiasis is caused by poorly controlled diabetes then you will need to be carefully monitored. Your diet needs to be looked at and your blood sugar levels better regulated. It can be the case that your diet and treatment routine is not controlling your diabetes which has caused this infection.

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy can cause candidiasis but this may be seen as a minor consideration. However, it must not be ignored. Your GP can recommend an anti-fungal medication which will form part of your chemotherapy.

In general, treatment for candidiasis involves an anti-fungal medication, which can be obtained on prescription or over the counter.

These over the counter medications may take the form of a throat sweet which can be sucked slowly or a liquid which is held within the mouth for a few minutes. The idea behind this is that the medication comes into contact with the fungal infection which will trigger it to work.

Preventing candidiasis

Can candidiasis be prevented? This is difficult to do if whatever is causing your infection is within your mouth at present.

However there are a few measures you can adopt which will reduce the risk. These include making sure that you have well fitting dentures, visiting the dentist on a regular basis and following a good dental hygiene routine.

Candidiasis is not a serious condition and is easy to treat.

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