Aphthous ulcers – a mouthful of soreness
A mouth ulcer is an open sore produced by a break in the mucous membrane lining of the mouth. Aphthous ulcers (canker sores) and cold sores (caused by the herpes simplex virus) are the commonest types of mouth ulcers. Mouth ulcers can be caused due to physical (injury or accidentally biting the inner cheek or tongue) or chemical (toothpastes or mouthwashes containing sodium lauryl sulfate) trauma; infection by microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites; and underlying medical conditions including autoimmune disorders and cancer. These can also be drug-induced or can be due to nutritional deficiencies (especially that of vitamin B12, iron and folic acid), allergies, and hormonal imbalances. Indigestion and alterations in the bowel flora may sometimes be responsible. Stress has also been found to be a triggering factor.
A mouth ulcer usually develops with a burning or smarting sensation in the area followed by the formation of a red spot or bulge that persists for a few days before it opens up to form an ulcer. Most ulcers are circular or oval and have a cheesy centre with a red, inflamed edge. They may be accompanied with the enlargement of the local lymph nodes with pain. However, punched out ulcers are characteristic of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis. Ulcers with everted edges are usually cancerous. Hence, on slightest suspicion, one must consult a doctor and get investigated for the same.
Recurrent mouth ulcers can be a very troublesome problem and can actually disrupt a person’s normal routine as it can affect one’s ability to eat, drink and speak comfortably. Also, some people have a tendency to get multiple ulcers at a time, which multiply the suffering too.
The aim of treatment for mouth ulcers should not only be to alleviate the suffering but also help to reduce the chances of recurrence. Above all, treating the underlying pathology or deficiency state that could be giving rise to the problem makes sense, be it physical or mental stress, an infection, hormonal fluctuations, allergies, autoimmune disorders, or anything else. Treating patients individualistically is a good idea speaking from the viewpoint of preventing recurrences. Often, minor changes in the diet and regimen are sufficient to get rid of the problem and to keep it at bay.
Avoid food items that irritate or aggravate the problem such as acidic foods, nuts, and certain spices. Be careful not to bite your cheek or tongue when eating. Don’t eat hastily and maintain good oral hygiene. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain cereals and pulses to ensure that you don’t have any vitamin or trace element deficiencies. Drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins. Increase your intake of roughage to prevent constipation and eat a bowl of curds once or twice daily to keep your bowel flora healthy. Indulge in meditation to relax mentally and to combat stress. Regular exercise and yoga can further be useful in maintaining your overall good health.
Share this Article with your Friends