Thrush (Encyclopedia of Cancer)
Thrush (Candidiasis)is a superficial yeast infection of the mouth and throat. Other names for this common condition include oral candidiasis, oropharyngeal candidiasis, pseudomembranous candidiasis, and mycotic stomatitis. Thrush is characterized by the presence of thick, curd-like white patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks. The underlying tissue is red and inflamed. The roof and floor of the mouth and the gums may also be affected. Thrush may be easily diagnosed by the appearance of the lesion. To confirm the diagnosis, a sample for microscopic analysis may be taken by scraping the lesion with a tongue depressor.
Thrush itself is a harmless infection; however, Candida may spread throughout the body (systemic infection) to the kidneys, lungs, joints, bones, and brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). A systemic infection can be very serious, especially in a cancer patient with a weakened immune system.
Thrush may be caused by several different species of Candida. Thrush rarely occurs in healthy persons. Three factors contribute to infection Candida: impairment of the immune system (immunosuppression), injury to the tissues
(The entire section is 804 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Thrush (World of Microbiology and Immunology)
Thrush, or oropharyngeal candidiasis, is an infection of the mouth and throat caused by the fungus Candida, a genus of yeast. This microorganism is naturally present on the skin and mucous membranes, but overgrowth can cause disease. Candidiasis is not considered communicable because the microorganism is ubiquitous (common and widespread).
Symptoms of thrush include cottage cheese-like white patches in the mouth and throat, with raw areas underneath. Esophageal involvement may result in difficulty in swallowing, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. Candidiasis is confirmed by culture from a swab of the infected tissue.
Proliferation of Candida is most often the result of a weakened immune system. Candidiasis is one of the most common and visible opportunistic infections that strike people with AIDS, chemotherapy patients, and other immunocompromised individuals. Many AIDS patients have been first diagnosed after they, or their dentists, noticed a thrush infection. In individuals with normal immune systems, candidiasis may be associated with antibiotic use. Infants, diabetics, smokers, and denture wearers are particularly susceptible to thrush.
In addition to causing thrush, Candida may affect the gastrointestinal tract or genitals. The microorganism may also enter the bloodstream, either via surgery or catheterization, or through damage to the skin or mucosa. If the immune system is unable to clear the fungus from the bloodstream, a dangerous systemic infection may occur, resulting in endocarditis, meningitis, or other serious problems.
Antifungal medications such as fluconazole and clotrimazole are generally effective in treating candidiasis. However, drug-resistant strains of Candida are becoming increasingly prevalent, and recurrence is common. This situation is driving research into new therapies and potential vaccines.
See also Bacteria and bacterial infection; Fungal genetics; Fungi; Fungicide; Immunodeficiency; Immunosuppressant drugs; Infection and resistance; Infection control; Microbial flora of the oral cavity, dental caries; Yeast genetics; Yeast, infectious