Thrush

Menstuff® has information on Thrush. Both men and women can get thrush though it is more often associated with women.

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A yeast infection that affects the vagina or mouth.
Tongue Thrush Before Treatment Pictures

Causes of thrush in men
Can a man catch thrush from a female partner?
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Vaginal Thrush

Causes of thrush in men


Thrush is caused by the Candida albicans fungus.

Candida albicans

Many people have a small amount of this fungus in their bodies. However, it does not usually cause problems because it is kept under control by the body’s immune system and other harmless bacteria (so called ‘good bacteria’).

Thrush can develop when the good bacteria in your body (which keeps candida under control) is destroyed. For example, if you are taking antibiotics to treat an infection, the antibiotics will not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, and will fight off both types. Also, if you are run down and your immune system is weak, the candida fungus that causes thrush may multiply.

Personal hygiene

Candida tends to grow in warm and moist conditions. Therefore, you may develop thrush if you do not dry your penis carefully after washing.

Using perfumed shower gels and soaps can irritate your penis, making thrush more likely to develop. Candida also thrives on skin already damaged.

HIV, diabetes and other conditions

Men who have HIV, diabetes or other conditions that weaken the immune system are more at risk of developing thrush. This is because the infection develops quickly and the weakened immune system is not strong enough to fight it off.

If you have uncontrolled diabetes (usually because you do not realise that you have the condition), you are more likely to develop thrush. Typical signs of diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst
  • frequently need to pass urine
  • weight loss

See your GP if you have these symptoms, or if you have thrush that keeps recurring (coming back), even after treatment.
Source: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Thrush-men/Pages/Causes.aspx

Causes, incidence, and risk factors


The body normally hosts a variety of germs, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body, some produce no harm or benefit, and some can cause harmful infections.

Thrush occurs when a fungus called Candida overgrows in your mouth. A small amount of this fungus lives in your mouth most of the time. It is usually kept in check by your immune system and other germs that also normally live in your mouth.

However, when your immune system is weak or when the other normal bacteria die, the fungus can overgrow. The following factors can increase your chances of getting thrush:

The following factors can increase your chances of getting thrush:

  • Being in poor health
  • Being very old or very young
  • Having an HIV infection or AIDS
  • Long-term use or high dose antibiotics
  • Receiving chemotherapy or drugs that weaken the immune system
  • Taking steroid medications
  • Sexual transmision?

Thrush is commonly seen in infants. It is not considered abnormal in infants unless it lasts longer than a couple of weeks.

Candida can also cause yeast infections in the vagina.

People who have diabetes and have high blood sugar levels are more likely to get thrush in the mouth (oral thrush), because the extra sugar in your saliva acts like food for Candida.

Taking high doses of antibiotics or taking antibiotics for a long time also increases the risk of oral thrush. Antibiotics kill some of the healthy bacteria that help keep Candida from growing too much.

People with poorly fitting dentures are also more likely to get thrush.

Symptoms

Thrush appears as whitish, velvety sores in the mouth and on the tongue. Underneath the whitish material, there is red tissue that may bleed easily. The sores can slowly increase in number and size.

Signs and tests

Your doctor or dentist can almost always diagnose thrush by looking at your mouth and tongue. The sores have a distinct appearance.

If the diagnosis is not clear, one of the following tests may be performed to look for Candida:

  • Culture of mouth lesions
  • Microscopic examination of mouth scrapings

Treatment

For thrush in infants, treatment is often NOT needed. It usually gets better on its own within 2 weeks.

If you develop a mild case of thrush after taking antibiotics, eating yogurt or taking over-the-counter acidophilus capsules can help.

Use a soft toothbrush and rinse your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution several times a day.

Good control of blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes may clear a thrush infection.

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash (nystatin) or lozenges (clotrimazole) to suck on if you have a severe case of thrush or a weakened immune system. These products are usually used for 5 - 10 days. If they don't work, other medication may be prescribed.

You may need stronger medications, such as fluconazole (Diflucan) or itraconazole (Sporanox) if:

  • You have a weakened immune system due to HIV or some medicines
  • The infection is moderate to severe
  • The infection spreads through your body

Expectations (prognosis)

Thrush in infants may be painful, but it is rarely serious. Because of discomfort, it can interfere with eating. If it does not get better on its own within 2 weeks, call your pediatrician.

In adults, thrush that occurs in the mouth can be cured. However, the long-term outlook depends on your immune system and the cause of the immune problem.

Complications

If you have a weakened immune system, Candida can spread throughout your body, causing a widespread (invasive) infection. This might affect your:

  • Brain (meningitis)
  • Esophagus (esophagitis)
  • Eyes (endophthalmitis)
  • Heart (endocarditis)
  • Joints (arthritis)

Calling your health care provider

Call your doctor if:

  • Your infant has had thrush-like sores in the mouth for at least 2 weeks.
  • Your infant is eating poorly due to the sores.
  • You are a teen or adult with thrush-like sores.
  • You have pain or difficulty swallowing.
  • You have symptoms of thrush and you are HIV positive, receiving chemotherapy, or you take medications to suppress your immune system.

Prevention

If you get thrush often, your doctor may recommend taking antifungal medication on a regular basis to avoid repeat infections.

If an infant with thrush is breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about ways to prevent future infections, such as an antifungal medication. Sterilize or throw out any pacifiers. For bottle-fed babies with thrush, throw out the nipples and buy new ones as the baby's mouth begins to clear.

To prevent the spread of HIV infection, follow safe sex practices and use precautions when working with blood products. Read more about how thrush can be passed on through sex

References

Edwards JE Jr. Candida species. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 257.

Kauffman CA. Candidiasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 346.
Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001650/

Vaginal Thrush


Most women experience occasional bouts of a common yeast infection known as vaginal thrush.

It causes itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy white cottage cheese-like discharge.

Vaginal thrush is fairly harmless but it can be uncomfortable and it can keep coming back, which is known as recurrent thrush.

When to see your GP

It makes sense to see your GP if you have the symptoms of vaginal thrush for the very first time.

That's because the symptoms of vaginal thrush are sometimes similar to those of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Your GP will be able to tell the difference.

Your GP can diagnose vaginal thrush and prescribe the most suitable anti-thrush medication for you.

If you've had diagnosed vaginal thrush before and you recognise your symptoms, you can go directly to a pharmacy to buy anti-thrush medication over the counter.

However, you should return to your GP if your thrush doesn't improve after treatment, or if you have frequent bouts (at least one every few months).

Why thrush happens

Thrush is a yeast infection, usually caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans.

Many women have Candida in their vagina without it causing any symptoms. Hormones in vaginal secretions and 'friendly' vaginal bacteria keep the fungus under control. Problems arise when the natural balance in the vagina is upset and Candida multiplies.

Vaginal thrush isn't a sexually transmitted infection but it can sometimes be passed on during sex. So, if you have thrush it's best to avoid having sex until you've completed a course of treatment and the infection has cleared up..

Treating thrush

Thrush can usually be easily treated with either a tablet that you take by mouth or anti-thrush pessaries that you insert into your vagina. Anti-thrush creams are also available that you can apply to the skin around the vagina to ease any soreness and itchiness.

Anti-thrush remedies are available either on prescription from your GP or over the counter from a pharmacy.

Treatment works well for most women and vaginal thrush usually clears up within a few days.

However, about 1 in 20 women may have recurrent thrush (four or more episodes in a year). Around 1 in 100 women may have thrush almost constantly. In these instances, longer courses of treatment, for up to six months, may be needed.

Who gets vaginal thrush?

Vaginal thrush is very common. Around three-quarters of women will have a bout of thrush at some point. Up to half of these will have thrush more than once.

Thrush most commonly affects women in their twenties and thirties. It is less common in girls who have not yet started their periods and women who have been through the menopause.

While any woman can experience a bout of thrush, you're particularly prone to it if you:

  • are pregnant
  • take antibiotics
  • have diabetes
  • have a weakened immune system

Thrush in pregnancy

You are more at risk of getting thrush while you're pregnant.

There is no evidence that thrush affects your chances of getting pregnant. And, if you have thrush while you are pregnant, it won't harm your unborn baby.

However, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding and you have thrush, you should avoid taking oral anti-thrush treatments. Instead, use vaginal pessaries, plus an anti-thrush cream if necessary.
Source: www.nhs.uk/conditions/Thrush/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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