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Other Names:
OPC, Oropharyngeal Candidiasis
Thrush

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What is OPC?

Candidiasis of the mouth and throat, also known as a "thrush" or oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), is a fungal infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of fungus called Candida. Candida is normally found on skin or mucous membranes. However, if the environment inside the mouth or throat becomes imbalanced, Candida can multiply. When this happens, symptoms of thrush appear.

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How common is OPC and who can get it?

OPC can affect normal newborns, but it occurs more frequently and more severely in people with weakened immune systems, particularly in persons with AIDS.

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What are the symptoms of OPC?

People with OPC infection usually have painless, white patches in the mouth. Symptoms of OPC in the esophagus may include pain and difficulty swallowing.

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How do I get OPC?

Most cases of OPC are caused by the person’s own Candida organisms which normally live in the mouth or digestive tract. A person has symptoms when overgrowth of Candida organisms occurs.

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How is OPC diagnosed?

OPC is diagnosed in two ways. A doctor may take a swab or sample of infected tissue and look at it under a microscope. If there is evidence of Candida infection, the sample will be cultured to confirm the diagnosis.

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How is OPC treated?

Prescription treatments such as, Oral fluconazole, clotrimazole troches, or nystatin suspension usually provide effective treatment for OPC.

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What will happen if a person does not seek treatment for a OPC?

Symptoms, which may be uncomfortable, may persist. In rare cases, invasive candidiasis may occur.

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Can Candida-causing OPC become resistant to treatment?

Overuse of antifungal medications can increase the chance that they will eventually not work (the fungus develops resistance to medications). Therefore, it is important to be sure of the diagnosis from before treating with over-the-counter or other antifungal medications.

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Thrush