Understanding causes, symptoms, treatment of candidiasis
Candidiasis is an infection caused by yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida. Candida normally lives inside the body (in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina) and on skin without causing any problems. Sometimes, Candida can multiply and cause an infection if the environment inside the mouth, throat, or esophagus changes in a way that encourages fungal growth.
Candidiasis in the mouth and throat is also called “thrush” or oropharyngeal candidiasis. Candidiasis in the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach) is called esophageal candidiasis or Candida esophagitis. Esophageal candidiasis is one of the most common infections in people living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Candidiasis in the mouth and throat can have many different symptoms, including: White patches on the inner cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and throat; Redness or soreness; Cotton-like feeling in the mouth; Loss of taste; Pain while eating or swallowing; and Cracking and redness at the corners of the mouth.
Symptoms of candidiasis in the esophagus usually include pain when swallowing and difficulty swallowing.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that you think are related to candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
Risk and Prevention
Who gets candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus? Candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus is uncommon in healthy adults. People who are at higher risk for getting candidiasis in the mouth and throat include babies, especially those younger than one month old, and people who: Wear dentures; Have diabetes; Have cancer; Have HIV/AIDS; Take antibiotics or corticosteroids, including inhaled corticosteroids for conditions like asthma; Take medications that cause dry mouth or have medical conditions that cause dry mouth; and Smoke.
Most people who get candidiasis in the esophagus have weakened immune systems, meaning that their bodies don’t fight infections well. This includes people living with HIV/AIDS and people who have blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. People who get candidiasis in the esophagus often also have candidiasis in the mouth and throat.
How can I prevent candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus? Ways to help prevent candidiasis in the mouth and throat include: Maintain good oral health; and Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after using inhaled corticosteroids.
Diagnosis and Testing
Healthcare providers can usually diagnose candidiasis in the mouth or throat simply by looking inside. Sometimes a healthcare provider will take a small sample from the mouth or throat. The sample is sent to a laboratory for testing, usually to be examined under a microscope.
Healthcare providers usually diagnose candidiasis in the esophagus by doing an endoscopy. An endoscopy is a procedure to examine the digestive tract using a tube with a light and a camera. A healthcare provider might prescribe antifungal medication without doing an endoscopy to see if the patient’s symptoms get better.
Candidiasis in the mouth, throat, or esophagus is usually treated with antifungal medicine. The treatment for mild to moderate infections in the mouth or throat is usually an antifungal medicine applied to the inside of the mouth for seven to 14 days. These medications include clotrimazole, miconazole, or nystatin. For severe infections, the treatment is usually fluconazole or another type of antifungal medicine given by mouth or through a vein for people who don’t get better after taking fluconazole. The treatment for candidiasis in the esophagus is usually fluconazole. Other types of prescription antifungal medicines can also be used for people who can’t take fluconazole or who don’t get better after taking fluconazole.
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