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Conditions - General Diabetes Diseases & Conditions

Diabetes And Thrush – Is There A Link?

Link between diabetes and thrush

What Is Thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection that usually infects warm or moist areas of the body like the mouth or the private parts.  It is caused by the Candida group of yeast (which is a type of fungus), usually a species in particular called Candida albicans. Candida albicans actually lives naturally on the body and is kept in check by healthy bacteria in the body. However, there can be an overgrowth of the yeast when there is an imbalance between the healthy bacteria and yeast. This may then result in yeast infections such as thrush. Studies show there is a link between diabetes and thrush and other yeast infections.

Thrush infections of the mouth and genitals are the most common, although infections can also happen in the armpits, in the areas between fingers, in the groin area, and under the breasts.

What Is The Link Between Diabetes And Thrush? 

Thrush is a common infection amongst people that suffers from diabetes. In 2018, a study involving 300,000 people showed that those who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of getting infections, including yeast infections (including thrush). Diabetics are twice as likely to contract various yeast infections compared to the general population, particularly if the blood sugar level is not well controlled.

There is this linkage between diabetes and thrush because:

  • Yeast gets sustenance from sugar, and if your glucose level is high, it can enable the yeast to overgrow. High levels of sugar in sweat, saliva, and urine makes it more conducive for yeast to grow in the mouth and the genitals.
  • Candida grows well in lower pH environments (i.e. more acidic). Higher blood glucose levels in patients suffering from diabetes lower the pH of the saliva.
  • People suffering from diabetes have a diminished immunity and are more susceptible to infections (including thrush). The ability to recover from injury is also reduced, which gives Candida more opportunities to multiple in wounds.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thrush?

Genital Thrush (in men)

  • Itching around the tip of the penis.
  • Reddening, swelling or soreness of the head of the penis.
  • Discharge beneath the foreskin.
  • Pain during urination.
  • The appearance of a white curd on the skin.

Vaginal Thrush

  • Soreness and itchiness.
  • White curd emerges on the skin.
  • White vaginal discharged.
  • Reddening of the outer parts of the vagina.

Oral Thrush

  • A nasty or bitter taste in the mouth.
  • Redness or bleeding inside the mouth area.
  • Painful and sore mouth/throat.
  • Cracks at the corner of the lips.
  • White coloured patches in the mouth area.

Seek Medical Attention For Thrush

While the occasional occurrence of thrush in healthy individuals is not of major concern, more frequent or severe episodes of infections may be indicative of more serious conditions such as diabetes. Untreated infections may also lead to more serious health complications. You thus should seek medical attention if you experience the above symptoms. If the doctor suspects diabetes, he may order a blood sugar test for confirmation.

Further Reading That May Interest You

This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.