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Canker Sores: Who Gets Them And Why?

Mouth painCanker sores are painful, and mouth pain cannot be ignored. They’re difficult to prevent and you just have to cope with them until they go away. We have no idea what causes them. For a doctor, this is difficult to accept. What the heck are canker sores?

The medical term is apthous ulcers and they’re round or oval painful ulcers that appear on the tongue, inner lips, inside of cheeks, or palate of the mouth. Up to 40 percent of people have experienced canker sores. So why have the remaining 60 percent never had them? We don’t know.

Canker sores are more common in young people and occur more frequently in white people, non-smokers and people with high socioeconomic status. Why? We don’t know. What we do know is that they aren’t contagious and aren’t caused by the herpes virus.

Once a person has had a canker sore they are easy to self-diagnose going forward. Some diseases cause canker sores to grow together and form larger ulcerations. People with AIDS, Bechets disease and even ulcerative colitis can experience large canker sores that can respond to immune suppressive drugs.

The average person who has canker sores is advised to take pain medication and wait until it goes away. That can take a week to 10 days. Any mouth sore that doesn’t heal within 2 to 3 weeks needs to be evaluated by a physician. (See my post on Michael Douglas’ recent diagnosis of throat or oropharyngeal cancer.)

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*


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