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How to manage thrush in adults

How to manage thrush in adults

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Rotimi Adesanya

Child and Public Health Physician
[email protected]

The medical term for thrush is Candidiasis. This is a yeast infection, usually caused by a yeast-like fungus known as Candida albicans.

Many people have a small amount of this fungus in their bodies. However, it does not usually cause problems because it is kept under control by the body’s immune system and other harmless bacteria (good bacteria).

During a recent consultation, it was discovered that an infected female client had never had sexual intercourse. I gave her the assurance that there would be no sexually transmitted infections without sex. I told her that what she had was simply a thrush infection.

I also found that the lady’s blood and urine sugar were very high, thus confirming that she had diabetes. This was why she had a heavy growth of Candida.

In the end, we were able to control her blood sugar, her weight and her diet. Now she is free of the thrush infection.

Risk factors

These diseases and conditions listed below may make one susceptible to thrush infections:

HIV/ AIDS: The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is the virus that causes AIDS damages or destroys cells of the immune system, thereby rendering an infected persone more susceptible to opportunistic infections that the body would normally resist.

Cancer: The immune system is likely to be weakened by the disease and from treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Both the disease and treatments can increase the risk of Candida infections.

Diabetes mellitus: In untreated or uncontrolled diabetes, the saliva and vagina fluid may contain large amounts of sugar, which encourages the growth of Candida.

Pregnancy: In pregnancy, one can have repeated vagina thrush due to decreased immunity.

Infant: They can pass the infection on to their mothers during breastfeeding. The infection may then pass back and forth between the mother’s breasts and the baby’s mouth.

Signs and symptoms of thrush

In men, thrush can affect the mouth, skin and the head of the penis (glans). The symptoms include redness, itching, and irritation at the site of infection (often at the head of the penis), thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin and pain when passing urine.

In women, the vagina is usually affected but it can also affect the mouth. It causes itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy white and cottage cheese-like discharge.

Vaginal thrush is fairly harmless, but it can be uncomfortable. It can also keep returning – this is known as recurrent (or complicated) thrush.

Symptoms of vaginal thrush are sometimes similar to those of sexually transmitted infections.

Vaginal thrush is not an STI, but it can sometimes be passed on to men during sex. This means that women with thrush should best avoid having sex until they complete the course of treatment and the infection has cleared up.

Thrush can also be triggered by sex. It is possible for infection to be passed on through sexual intercourse, although this is uncommon.

Women whose breasts are infected with Candida may experience unusually red, sensitive, cracked or itchy nipples; shiny or flaky skin on the darker, circular area around the nipples; unusual pain during or between breastfeeding and stabbing pain deep within the breast.


In most cases, thrush can be easily treated with either a tablet orally or by inserting anti-thrush pressaries in the vagina.

 It can also be treated by applying anti-thrush creams to the skin around the vagina to ease any soreness and itchiness. Treatment works well for most women and vaginal thrush usually clears up within a few days.

Those who suffer thrush should try taking a supplement called acidophilus. It is a form of pro-biotic and will help get rid of the yeast infection in the body.


Those at risk are advised to keep off concentrated sugar because thrush lives on sugar. They are to eat at an adequate amount of protein daily as this creates acidity in the body which kills thrush. They are to limit sugar intake if thrush is bad.

Men need to wear condoms until their partners get rid of the infection (men often don’t have any symptoms). Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear can help prevent moisture building up under your foreskin, which lowers the chances of the Candida fungus multiplying.

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