White Bumps with Bad Taste in the Mouth – Signs of Oral Thrush in Infants and Adults
Are you experiencing bad taste in the mouth? Is your newborn facing difficulty in feeding? Then these changes could be signs of oral thrush. Learn how the right combination of medicine and home-based remedies can treat the bizarre taste in the mouth.
Oral thrush is an infection that develops inside the mouth; on the tongue and inner cheeks. This yeast infection is also called as oral candidiasis and oropharyngeal candidiasis. The area of impact is typically tongue, and inner cheeks, however, it can also spread to the gums, tonsils, the roof of the mouth and back of your throat.
Is oral thrush a common condition?
Oral thrush is a fairly common condition mostly affecting infants and toddlers. It is typically mild in nature and hardly causes complications. However, people with a weak immune system can experience problems.
What causes oral thrush?
The condition occurs when the fungus Candida Albicans overgrows in the mouth. It is a normal organism that lives in the mouth. Normally, our immune system is capable of controlling the good and bad micro-organisms. But at times, this natural balance is disrupted causing harmful bacteria and fungi to start multiplying.
The immune system can be weakened due to following reasons:
- A person is taking certain drugs that reduce the number of good organisms.
- Cancer treatment that includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- Diseases such as HIV and leukemia
- Uncontrolled diabetes
This is the same fungus which causes yeast infection in pregnant women and this can be passed on to the baby during the delivery.
Symptoms of oral thrush in infants, adults and breastfeeding women
Initially, the symptoms of oral thrush might go unnoticed. However, with the passage of time, the fungus continues to multiply causing following symptoms:
Signs in older children and adults
Following symptoms can be experienced by this group of people:
- Creamy white lesions or bumps on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks and tonsils
- Loss of taste or bad taste in the mouth
- Pain at the affected site
- Difficulty swallowing food due to burning or soreness
- Cracked skin at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
- Light bleeding when the lesions are scraped
- Redness or pain under dentures
In severe cases, oral thrush can spread into the esophagus. This can result in fever or the feeling of something stuck in the throat or middle of the chest.
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Symptoms in infants
In addition to the white bumps, infants can experience following symptoms:
- Problem in feeding
- Irritability or fussiness
Signs in breastfeeding moms
Both the infant and the mother can get caught in the cycle of transmitting the infection to each other. Following symptoms can be seen in the breastfeeding mothers:
- Severe pain while breastfeeding
- Intense itching, unusual pain or sensitivity in the nipples
- Piercing pain deep in the breast
- Shiny or flaky skin on the areola, the darker circular area around the nipple
Complications – Can oral thrush bring health complications?
The condition rarely causes health complications in otherwise healthy individuals. However, people with a weak immune system such as HIV/AIDS may experience severe problems. In people with a weak immune system, the fungus can spread to the esophagus and then bloodstream before spreading throughout the body.
This can lead problems in various organs such as brain, liver, and heart. Infants can develop serious diaper rash due to oral thrush.
How doctor diagnosis oral thrush?
In the majority of the cases, the condition can be diagnosed by the doctor by simply looking into the patient’s mouth. In addition, the doctor may perform following examinations:
A small portion of the bumps will be scraped for lab analysis where it will be examined to check the presence of the candiasis fungus.
In cases where oral thrush spread into the esophagus, the doctor will likely perform swab throat culture for more accurate diagnosis. In this procedure, a cotton swab is used to extract a sample tissue from the back of the throat and send to the lab for examination.
For more detailed examination of the esophagus, endoscopy might be used. A thin tube with light and camera attached to it will be inserted through the mouth and into the esophagus to check the affected region. A sample tissue can be extracted for examination.
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Treatment of oral thrush – Medical and home remedies
Treatment will depend on case to case and the age and general health condition. But the main purpose will be to prevent further growth and development of the infection. Oral thrush can be completely eradicated within a couple of weeks once you start taking treatment, however, it can recur in future.
Depending on the severity, oral thrush can be treated at home or through doctor prescribed drugs. The treatment can be different for children & adults and infants and breastfeeding moms.
Treatment for children and adults
The following antifungal medicines may be used for treating oral thrush.
- Antifungal medication such as fluconazole.
- Lozenge form of clotrimazole can be prescribed. This medicine should be kept in the mouth until it dissolves.
- Oral antifungal such as itraconazole can be recommended for people resistant to initial treatments. This includes individuals with weak immune system such as in case of HIV.
- Antifungal mouthwash such as nystatin that is swished around the mouth and then swallowed.
- Amphotericin drug which is usually injected, is for serious cases of oral thrush
Oral thrush can be treated at home. You just have to follow below tips:
- Brush your teeth using a soft toothbrush in order to avoid scraping. After the treatment, replace the toothbrush.
- If you have any dentures attached, make sure you properly clean them.
- Only use prescribed mouthwashes or sprays
- Maintain proper blood sugar levels in case you are diabetic
- You can also rinse your mouth using saltwater mixture. Mix one-fourth to half teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water
- Have unsweetened yogurt to maintain and restore good bacteria levels in the mouth
Treatments for infants and breastfeeding mothers
If a breastfeeding infant is suffering from oral thrush, both the infant and the breastfeeding mother must be treated to prevent the retransmission of the infection. These treatments include:
- Antifungal gel such as miconazole for the baby
- Antifungal cream such as terbinafine or clotrimazole for mother’s breasts. Make sure you wipe off the cream before feeding the baby in order to prevent from getting it into their mouth.
- Make a solution of half water and half vinegar and rinse bottle nipples, pacifiers and pieces of breast pump and allow these items to air-dry. Washing these things in hot water and drying in the sun will also work.
- To prevent the fungus spreading on to the clothes, use nursing pads.
In most cases, just maintaining good oral hygiene can prevent a variety of problems. So, the best way to prevent oral thrush is to practice oral hygiene. Make sure you brush your teeth twice daily and flossing once a day. This is especially vital if you wear dentures or have diabetes.
Get through regular dental checkups even if you fall into the category of healthy individuals. Remember, oral thrush is a common problem and the best thing is we can fight back and restore our oral health. The information outlined above can help you get back on your feet. In case your symptoms are causing discomfort, talk to a dentist about the best solution.
1. Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus(2017, August 04). CDC read more
2. Thrush and Other Candida Infections(2015, November 21). AAP read more
3. Thrush or Candidiasis(n.d.). CHOP read more
4. Thrush and Breastfeeding(2010). laleche read more
5. Denise M. Aaron(2017, April). Candidiasis (Mucocutaneous) read more