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Canker Sores Causes and Risk Factors

Canker Sores Causes and Risk Factors
Canker Sores
Causes and Risk Factors

What causes canker sores?
It is poorly understood what exactly causes canker sores, and more than one cause is likely, even from person to person. A canker sore does not seem to come from viruses or bacteria. However, in some people, an allergy to a bacterium inside the mouth may trigger the onset of canker sores. Sometimes, however, no cause can be found.

Other medical conditions might also cause a canker sore. Behcet's disease, a rare disorder causing inflammation throughout the body, can result in canker sores in the mouth. Or Celiac disease, which is a serious intestinal disorder caused by a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in most grains, can also trigger canker sores. Finally, female sex hormones can contribute to causing canker sores. Many women have noticed bouts of the sores during certain phases of their menstrual cycles, and most women see an improvement or remission of their canker sores during pregnancy.

Common triggers for canker sore outbreak include:

  • allergies (an allergic response to certain bacteria in the mouth)
  • dietary deficiencies (especially iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B-12)
  • direct injury (cut from biting the cheek or tongue, dental work, dental appliances, excessive brushing, sports mishaps, caustic foods)
  • fatigue
  • food allergies
  • hormonal changes
  • other medical conditions
  • reaction to hot drinks
  • reaction to hot foods
  • stress
  • toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • viral infections

Risk factors
Anyone can develop canker sores, but the following factors can make you more susceptible to an outbreak. Risk factors may not be a direct cause of a particular disease, but seem to be associated with its development in some way. Combination of several factors contributes to outbreaks of a canker sore, even in a single individual. These factors include:

Age - Canker sores tend to occur less frequently as people get older. Most people experience an initial outbreak between the ages of 10 and 40. Furthermore, canker sores occur most often in young people in their teens and early twenties.

Diet - A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron puts you at high risk of developing a canker sore. Likewise, certain foods such as chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese and highly acidic foods, such as pineapple can increase the likelihood of a canker sore outbreak.

Family history - Genetic studies show that in some people, the susceptibility to recurrent outbreaks of canker sores is inherited. This may, in part, explain why the tendency to have canker sores runs in families. Up to 50 percent of people with canker sores also have a close family member with the disorder. Either hereditary factors or shared environmental factors, such as particular food or allergens, may explain this correlation.

Gender - Women are more likely than men to have recurrent canker sores. Canker sores, especially clusters of small lesions, occur more commonly in women than in men. This may be due to hormonal shifts during menstruation.

Immune system disorders - Anomalies that cause the immune system to attack healthy cells in the mouth instead of foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria can increase risk of canker sores. Likewise, diseases which suppress the immune system such as HIV/AIDS can also increase risk.

Intestinal diseases - Some intestinal problems, like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may make certain individuals more susceptible to developing canker sores.

Most canker sores go away on their own in a week or two. But do you know how to identify a canker sore? Do you know when you should seek medical help? Continue reading to learn to know the signs and symptoms of canker sores in the mouth.

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Tags: bacteria in the mouth, ulcerative colitis, allergic response, Menstruation, acidic foods, sensitivity, appliances, infections, menstrual, Allergies, Pregnancy, bacteria, Diseases, triggers, symptoms, allergic, Allergy, dietary, Colitis, fatigue
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