Most of the conditions I discuss on my blog here are chronic problems. Oral Candidiasis is not chronic, but it was one that Alex dealt with frequently due to his weakened immune system and high doses of inhalers. In that respect, I believe that it fits here.
What is Oral Candidiasis? According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), Candidiasis of the mouth and throat, also known as “thrush” or oropharyngeal candidiasis, is a fungal infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of a yeast called Candida. Candida yeasts normally live on the skin or mucous membranes in small amounts. However, if the environment inside the mouth or throat becomes imbalanced, the yeasts can multiply and cause symptoms. Candida overgrowth can also develop in the esophagus, and this is called Candida esophagitis, or esophageal candidiasis.
This oral yeast infection occurs in babies, children and adults, with infants and the elderly being the most common. The next highest at risk is anyone with a weakened immune system which includes those that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer. there are others at risk, those on antibiotics or oral or inhaled corticosteroids. The ones who have a smaller risk of acquiring oral thrush are those who wear dentures or have a conditions that causes dry mouth. This puts many children at risk. Those with asthma, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS or other chronic disorders.
In the beginning, the child may not notice any symptoms depending on the cause. Slowly or all of a sudden the symptoms start to emerge and may last days, weeks, or months. An infant’s symptoms may begin with white patches that coat the inside of his/her cheeks, on the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. As it spreads you will see it on his lips and gums. To differentiate the patches from breast milk or formula, try to wipe it off. If it does not come off easily it may begin to bleed and leave an ulcer.
The treatment for thrush usually depends on how severe it is and what the cause is. If it is not severe, it may take only oral medications such as clotrimazole troches and nystatin suspension ( “swish and swallow”) or systemic antifungal medication such as fluconazole or itraconazole may be necessary for a more severe infection.
1. Cannon, R. D., A. R. Holmes, et al. (1995). “Oral Candida: clearance, colonization, or candidiasis?” J Dent Res 74(5): 1152-1161.
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