Thrush is an unpleasant condition that can be uncomfortable. It may surprise some people that thrush is an infection of the mouth with the same fungus that causes yeast infections of the vagina. If your doctor has told you that you have thrush, you’re probably wondering exactly how you got it.
Illness can cause thrush. If you are managing a health condition that lowers or weakens your immune system, thrush may develop, states the Mayo Clinic. A healthy immune system will maintain proper balance of the normal flora of the mouth. When the immune system is lowered, however, it cannot manage the balance as effectively. Some conditions that potentially increase susceptibility to thrush include:
- Cancer — Cancer weakens the immune system, and the treatments frequently lower the immune system as well.
- Autoimmune disorders — When the immune system malfunctions and causes immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, you may be susceptible to thrush. In addition, the medications used to treat these types of conditions can further hamper a good immune response.
- Diabetes — When the saliva contains too much sugar, the yeast infection is encouraged to increase.
- Vaginal yeast infections — These infections can cause thrush.
- HIV/AIDS — These diseases are caused by a virus that results in an immunodeficiency.
Risk factors increase thrush propensity. While the condition that causes thrush can happen to anyone, there are factors that increase the risk of developing thrush:
- Lowered immune system
- Health conditions like diabetes and anemia
- Medications like steroids, antibiotics and inhaled corticosteroids, which can cause a propensity for a Candida overgrowth
- Chemotherapy, which weakens the immune response
- Radiation treatment damages the immune system
- Dry mouth, either by medication or medical treatment
- Smoking, which is not good for the mouth or lungs
- Mouthwash use. Brushing and flossing are usually enough for good oral hygiene. Mouthwash can kill bacteria in the mouth that is necessary for the balance of proper oral flora.