by Horn D
(Esophageal Candidiasis; Esophageal Thrush)


Candida esophagitis is a yeast infection in the food pipe. If left untreated, it can spread or affect swallowing.


This infection is caused by the fungus candida. Small amounts of this fungus live in moist places in the body. The mouth and throat are common areas. The body can normally keep the fungus under control. Medical issues or treatment can weaken the body’s protection. This leads to an infection from overgrowth of fungus.

Risk Factors

This infection may be more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Health issues that make it hard to fight infection, such as:
  • HIV
  • Certain types of cancer
  • An organ transplant
  • Diabetes
  • Some medicine, such as antibiotics or corticosteroids
  • Poor nutrition
  • Alcohol use disorder


Some people may not have symptoms. Those who do may have:

  • Problems and pain when swallowing
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • White patches in the mouth and throat
  • Burning of the tongue


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. An exam will be done. The doctor will make a diagnosis based on the exam.

An endoscopy may also be done. A tube is passed down the throat. The doctor will be able to look at the throat lining. Fluids or tissue samples may also be taken for testing.


Candida esophagitis is treated with antifungal medicine. The medicine may be given by mouth or IV.


Some illnesses, like HIV, can make it hard to fight infections. Treatment can make the body stronger. This can help prevent infections.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases 


Health Canada 

The College of Family Physicians of Canada 


Candida infection. The Oral Cancer Foundation website. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2022.

Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2022.

Esophageal candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2022.

Mohamed AA, Lu XL, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of esophageal candidiasis: Current Updates. Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019:3585136.

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