What is Thrush (Tongue Fungus)? How to Treat Thrush?

Thrush, also known as tongue fungus, occurs as a result of a fungal infection in the tissues inside the mouth. The disease is especially characterized by the formation of white patches on the tongue. ‘What is thrush and how can it be treated?’ about this condition that is frequently encountered in society. You can find the answers to your questions here.

What is Thrush (Tongue Fungus)?

The condition known as thrush or tongue fungus is a fungal infection that develops in the mouth. A type of fungus called Candida albicans causes thrush by multiplying in different structures in the mouth, especially the tongue. In fact, this type of fungus is also found in the mouth of healthy people. However, in periods when the immune system is not strong enough, Candida Albicans multiplies excessively, leading to the development of thrush. Therefore, this fungus can be described as an ‘opportunistic microorganism’.

Thrush is more common in young children and older people. This is because the immune systems of these groups are relatively weaker. Of course, it is possible to encounter oral fungus in people outside this group. Oral thrush does not usually cause serious problems in healthy people. However, treating thrush in people with weak immune systems can be challenging.

What Causes Thrush?

Under normal conditions, the immune system is responsible for destroying potentially harmful microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi that enter the body. When the immune system fully fulfills its duty, the balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microorganisms in the body is maintained. However, a weakness in the system may cause this balance to be disrupted. Such a situation also occurs in the development of oral fungus, that is, thrush. Candida, which is also found in the mouth of healthy people, is kept at a certain level by the immune system. However, a weakening of the protective effect of the immune system causes the Candida fungus to overgrow. As a result, this type of fungus accumulates in the mouth and causes thrush on the tongue.

Weakened immune system is one of the main causes of thrush. There are various situations that cause weakness in this system. Factors that increase the risk of tongue fungus by weakening immunity:

Some Medical Conditions: Some diseases weaken the immune system and make the person vulnerable to infections. AIDS can be given as an example of these diseases. Some treatment methods can also suppress immunity. Medicines used to prevent tissue rejection in organ transplant patients suppress the immune system. Just as the cancer disease itself can weaken the immune system, its treatment can also weaken the immune system.

Diabetes: Diabetic patients who do not receive treatment or do not follow their treatment properly have high amounts of sugar in their saliva. This high amount of sugar has a positive effect on fungal growth.

Vaginal Fungal Infections: Sometimes the type of fungus that causes infection in the vagina can also cause thrush in the mouth.

Medicines: Cortisone-derived drugs increase the risk of thrush by suppressing immunity. Antibiotics, on the other hand, can disrupt the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microorganisms in the body, paving the way for the development of fungi in the mouth.

In addition to the above-mentioned conditions, the use of oral appliances also poses a risk of thrush. Appliances such as dental prostheses and braces can be given as examples. Situations that may cause dry mouth also increase the likelihood of oral thrush.

It is possible to prevent the development of thrush. Practices that can be taken to prevent the disease are as follows:

  • Keeping the immune system strong by eating a balanced and regular diet
  • Brushing teeth at least twice a day, using dental floss, paying due attention to oral hygiene
  • Having regular dental and oral health checks
  • If you have a problem such as dry mouth, contact a health center and get the necessary treatment.
  • If an oral appliance is used, remove it before going to bed, clean it regularly every day, and make sure that the appliance fits properly in the relevant place in the mouth.
  • When using corticosteroid inhaler medication, brushing the teeth after the procedure
  • Keeping blood sugar under control if you have diabetes

What are the symptoms of thrush (tongue fungus)?

Thrush can cause many different symptoms. However, not all of these symptoms may be seen in every person. Some people have most of the symptoms, while others may not show any symptoms other than whiteness on the tongue.

Symptoms of thrush in children and adults:

  • White, creamy lesions on the tongue
  • Lesions that appear slightly raised from the surrounding tissue with the appearance of curd cheese
  • Redness, pain and burning sensation in the mouth, especially around the lesion, and difficulty in eating, drinking and swallowing due to these
  • Bleeding when lesions are touched
  • Cracking and redness at the corners of the mouth
  • Cottony mouthfeel
  • loss of taste
  • If an oral appliance is used, it may be listed as redness and pain under the relevant appliance.

Although thrush generally manifests itself as whitening of the tongue, lesions in this disease can spread to the inside of the cheeks, palate, gums and tonsils. In cases that cause thrush to become more severe, especially diseases such as cancer and AIDS, the lesions can progress to the esophagus. The condition in which lesions extend into the esophagus is called Candida esophagitis. In addition to the above symptoms, esophagitis patients may also show symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing and pain due to food getting stuck in the throat.

In babies, thrush can cause symptoms such as feeding difficulties and restlessness, as well as white lesions on the tongue. Babies can pass thrush to their mothers during breastfeeding. Breasts infected with Candida can cause this fungus to pass to the baby through milk, causing thrush again. This succession of situations can become a vicious circle.

Candida infection in the breast can cause the following symptoms:

  • Redness, cracks, itching or tenderness in the nipples that are different from usual
  • Shiny or flaky skin in the dark area around the nipple (areola)
  • Feeling a different pain in the nipple during breastfeeding or in the periods between breastfeeding
  • Stabbing-like pain in the deep tissues of the breast

How to Treat Thrush?

Tongue fungus treatment aims to prevent the rapid proliferation and spread of the fungal disease that causes the disease in the mouth. When planning the treatment of thrush, it is of great importance to determine the general condition of the patient, his age, and the underlying cause of the disease. Correctly identifying the underlying cause and providing appropriate treatment prevents the recurrence of thrush. Antifungal drugs can be used for the treatment of thrush in children and adults who do not have any additional disease. These medications may be in lozenge, tablet or liquid form.

Treating thrush in babies and breastfeeding mothers prevents the infection from entering a vicious circle between mother and baby. Babies can be given mild doses of antifungal medication and mothers can be given antifungal cream to apply to their breasts.

In patients with severely weakened immune systems, strong antifungal drugs are preferred in the treatment of thrush.

People with mild thrush can reduce the severity of symptoms with simple methods they can apply at home. For example, rinsing the mouth with water mixed with salt, baking soda, a little lemon squeezed into it, or apple cider vinegar can help eliminate fungal lesions on the tongue.

Thrush, also known as tongue fungus, is a health problem that many people encounter at least once in their lives. Although this disease resolves spontaneously in a few weeks, some groups in particular need treatment to fully recover. In this context, especially babies, the elderly, those with diseases that weaken immunity, breastfeeding mothers and those using immunosuppressive drugs; If thrush is suspected, one should immediately apply to the nearest health center.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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