Oropharyngeal Candidiasis

Oropharyngeal Candidiasis Explained

Oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) is an oral yeast infection that affects the area around the back of the mouth. It is caused by an overgrowth of the fungi Candida albicans and is also known as thrush or a yeast infection. OPC is a common fungal infection that affects up to 5% of the population and can occur in both adults and children. It is more common in individuals with weakened immune systems, such as adults with HIV or chemotherapy patients.

Signs & Symptoms

OPC is associated with several symptoms, the most common of which include:

  • White patches on the inner cheeks, tongue, tonsils, and throat
  • Redness and soreness in the affected area.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Fever.
  • Difficulty eating.

Possible Causes of OPC

The exact cause of OPC is not known, however, there several factors that may increase your risk of developing the condition, including:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Regular use of antibiotics or other medications
  • Mouth ventilation tube placement
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking

Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose OPC, your doctor may ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination. Your doctor may also take a sample of the affected area and culture it to determine the type of fungus causing the infection. Treatment for OPC usually involves antifungal medications such as nystatin, fluconazole, or itraconazole. These medications can be taken orally or applied directly to the affected area.


To reduce your risk of developing OPC, good oral hygiene is important. Be sure to brush twice a day, floss, and use mouthwash to keep your mouth clean. Other methods of prevention include:

  • Avoiding smoking and other tobacco products.
  • Protecting your mouth from dryness by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Avoiding the use of antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Taking probiotics to promote healthy bacteria in the mouth.
  • Avoiding sharing items such as glasses, plates, and silverware with someone who has a yeast infection.