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Thrush  
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Definition  

Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by a fungus. It usually begins on the tongue and inside of the cheeks, and spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, and throat.

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Causes  

Thrush is caused by a fungus. The immune system can normally fight off this fungus but the fungus can grow and spread if the immune system is weakened.

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Risk Factors  

Certain situations can weaken the immune system either in the body or locally in the mouth. A weakened immune system increases your risk for thrush. Factors that can weaken your immune system include:

  • Certain medications such as:
    • Corticosteroid inhalers
    • Medications that treat psychiatric conditions
    • Antibiotics
  • Imbalance of healthy microorganisms in the mouth which can be caused by:
    • Wearing dentures
    • Prolonged illness
    • Conditions that cause a dry mouth
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Symptoms  

In some cases, you may not have symptoms. In those that have symptoms, thrush may cause:

  • White or red patches on the inside of the cheeks or tongue that may or may not come off when rubbed
  • Sore mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Differences in taste
  • Fissures or cracks in the mouth

Thrush can spread beyond the mouth. Complications include infections that spread to the:

  • Esophagus—the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach
  • Urinary tract
  • Whole body—systemic infection causes multiple organ failure and death
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Diagnosis