Oral Yeast Infection, also known as Oropharyngeal Candidiasis or Thrush: Causes, Prevention & Alternative Treatments

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Oral Yeast Infection or Thrush


An oral yeast infection is also known as oropharyngeal candidiasis or, most commonly, thrush. This sometimes painful condition is caused by the Candida albicans yeast or fungus, which can also cause vaginal infections and diaper rashes. It commonly affects newborns, younger children, older people as well as those with an impaired immune system due to dietary deficiencies or systemic diseases.

Candida is a parasitic type fungus that inhabits the intestines, genital tract, mouth, esophagus and throat. This yeast is present in all human bodies and is kept under control by the beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems. Oral yeast infection occurs when the bacteria that live in our mouths get out of balance. When the healthy intestinal balance of bacteria becomes altered, yeast can then grow and mutate to a fungal form known as Candida that releases toxins into the body. Oral yeast infections are not contagious.



Symptoms

  • White, creamy or yellow patches on the inside his mouth. These patches cannot easily be wiped away. Aggressive wiping may cause the area to bleed and leave behind a painful ulcer.
  • Redness in the tongue without bright spots, sometimes followed by peeling patches on the surface of the tongue.
  • Red cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Potentially an unpleasant burning sensation in the infected area.
  • Bad breath
  • If your symptoms escalate into swelling or fever, consult your physician.



Diagnosis:

  • A culture can be performed by your physician
  • Stick your tong out in front of the mirror. If the tongue is coated with a whitish film, you may suffer from an oral yeast infection.
  • Home tests are available (drug store)



Causes

  • Impaired Immunesystem - potential causes
    • Babies that don't yet have the full spectrum of bacterial population in their mouths are susceptible to this condition
    • Dietary factors / malnutrition (vitamin or mineral deficiencies) cause an impaired immunesystem, allowing this yeast to thrive.
    • Psychological factors such as stress, depression or anxiety.
    • A defect in the white blood cells or a confirmed low white blood cell count.
    • Medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, radiation, kidney dialysis, transplants
  • Systemic diseases affecting host defenses, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism , hypoadrenalism, asthma, COPD, HIV/AIDS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögren's Syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Connective Tissue Disorders, etc.
  • Allergies to foods or food additives
  • Dentures that are not regularly taken out, or old dentures, can change the environment in a person's mouth allowing the yeast to grow underneath and around the dentures.
  • Drug therapies that affect the host’s defenses and cause imbalance in the oral cavity.
  • Antibiotic / Antibacterial Therapies:
    • Antibiotic therapies may disrupt the normal inner balance of organisms by eliminating the beneficial bacterial flora that helps prevent Candida multiplication.
    • Oral antibacterial rinses (such as hydrogen peroxide) will kill many bacteria and are, therefore, often used to help with gum infections. However, if it is used for more than say two weeds, it can cause enough of an imbalance in your mouth (as it also kills good bacteria) to allow the yeast to take over.



Treatment of Oral Yeast Infection

  • Physicians will usually prescribe anti-fungal agents - such as Nystatin, Ampotericin, and Ketocanazole - which may resolve the current infection, but the cause needs to be addressed to stop it from reoccuring. Recommendations may be given to improve diet and eliminate factors that caused the overgrowth (please refer to the above).....
  • Drink acidulous juices, such as pineapple, grapefruit, orange, cowberry and cranberry berry.

  • Rinse your mouth periodically throughout the day to wash away part of fungi cells. Use a slightly warm solution

  • Probiotics suppress the growth of potentially harmful organisms such as Candida. Specifically, the beneficial bacteria acidophillus is thought to control candida by producing hydrogen peroxide, which directly kills candida. Acidophillus also helps to restore the microbial balance within the digestive tract. You can purchase probiotic supplements or yogurt with active cultures.

  • Organic Raw Apple Cider has natural enzymes, minerals vitamins and essential acids that help keep yeast under control.

  • Garlic is a very effective antifungal agent. Either consume raw or use in tincture form.
  • Herbs:
    • Goldenseal: Several university studies are underway to determine why goldenseal is so effective. One study in particular is supported by the National Institutes of Health and is entitled "Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Remedy For Oral Diseases". It is conducted in the laboratories of Dr. Christine Wu at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Patients report that goldenseal provided relief from pain within a few hours and total healing may occur within a few days. Traditionally powdered goldenseal is applied directly to the site of the infection. Alternatively, liquid Goldenseal Root Extract is applied to the affected area with a cotton swab.
    • Black Walnut has been shown to destroy this fungi better than commonly prescribed antifungal drugs.
    • Pau D'arco contains an antibacterial and antifungal agent. This herb works well in tea or tincture form.
    • Clove works for those when Pau D'arco does not.
    • Chamomile tincture (as a mouth rinse)
    • Oregon Grape Root inhibits Candida as various studies have shown.
    • Gentian Violet - available from some drug stores. A solution of 1% Gentian Violet is used to swap the mouth. Treatment should be administered every morning or every other morning, depending on severity of infection, over a three-day period. Very rarely is treatment continued for more than three days, except in severe cases. Improvement should be evident by the second treatment. When all lesions are gone, treatment can be discontinued.

  • Prevention:
    • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, mostly raw
    • Consume moderate amounts of broiled fish and broiled skinless chicken.
    • Avoid foods that contain sugar or refined carbohydrates as fungi thrive on sugar. Also avoid soda beverages, grains, processed foods, as well as fried, greasy foods.
    • Eliminate meat and dairy products as they promote secretion of mucus.



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