It’s certainly been an eventful season for illness. Over the past month or so, I’ve seen patients coming in with everything from the common cold to the flu, which, if you haven’t heard, is making something of a nuisance of itself this year. Another condition I’m seeing a lot of is laryngitis. You’re probably familiar with it – if you have or have had laryngitis in the past, you’re probably familiar with how it affects your ability to talk. That’s because it’s usually triggered by a viral infection that causes the larynx (or voice box) to become swollen and irritated, which means you’re left hoarse, or without any voice at all for a few days.
Canker sores are painful, frustrating conditions that some people deal with over and over again. Let’s talk about what they are, what you should do if you have one and whether or not they can be prevented.
A Canker Sore Primer
First, let’s address the terminology. Cold sores and canker sores are not the same thing, even though the terms are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably. Cold sores, or fever blisters, are caused by a virus, appear outside of the mouth – usually around the lips, near the chin or under the nose – and are contagious. Canker sores are sores inside of your mouth – typically inside the cheek, but they can also appear on the tongue or soft palate. These sores aren’t contagious, and they are often round in shape and are white or grayish with a red border. They are not caused by a virus like cold sores are; however, we’re not really sure exactly what causes them. Stress, previous injury to the area (such as accidentally biting the inside of your cheek), acidic foods (like lemons, oranges or pineapples), braces and even underlying health conditions like vitamin deficiencies or celiac disease have all been linked to canker sores.