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The following information is from the National Institute of Health

Thrush (Candidiasis) is a yeast infection of the mucus membrane lining the mouth and tongue. Candida can also cause yeast infections in the vagina.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Thrush is caused by forms of a fungus called Candida. 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 types of germs that also normally live in your mouth.

However, when your immune system is weak, the fungus can grow. The following factors can increase your chances of getting thrush:

  • Being in poor health
  • Being very old or very young
  • Having an HIV infection offsite link or AIDS offsite link
  • Receiving chemotherapy offsite link for cancer or drugs to suppress your immune system
  • Taking steroid medicationsm

People who have diabetes offsite link 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.


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 offsite link
  • Microscopic examination of mouth scrapings


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 offsite link) or lozenges (clotrimazole offsite link) 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.

If the infection has spread throughout your body or you have HIV/AIDS, you may need stronger medications, such as fluconazole offsite link (Diflucan) or itraconazole offsite link (Sporanox).

Expectations (prognosis)

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.


If you have a weakened immune system (for example, if you are receiving chemotherapy or are HIV positive),Candida can spread throughout your body, causing infection in your:

Calling your health care provider

Call your doctor if:

  • 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.


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

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