Canker Sores: Who Gets Them And Why?
Patricia Zifferblatt | March 4, 2008

Canker sores are painful eruptions that can occur on the inside of the mouth, on the lips and inner cheeks, on the gums, or under the tongue. They are usually red, sometimes with a white coating, and can be very painful. Anyone can get canker sores, but they usually affect more women than men, and teen-agers get them most often.

Doctors don’t know for sure what causes canker sores. They suspect they’re the result of too much stress, poor nutrition, anemia, food allergies, or hormonal imbalances.

So what’s a body to do with recurring canker sores?
  1. Report outbreaks to your doctor and follow his or her suggestions.

  2. Keep a record of when, where, how often, and which triggers seem to affect the occurrence and recurrence of canker sores--before an exam, during ovulation, after eating too many acid foods or junk foods, and so on.

  3. Make sure you and your teenagers supplement daily with a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement as insurance against skipped meals and less-than-great food choices.

  4. Get a blood test to make sure you’re not anemic; follow your doctor’s orders when taking an iron supplement.

  5. Watch your stress level! Try a yoga class or relaxation exercises to help relieve your body of stressful reactions. And the iPod glued to your kid’s head may actually be a good thing; studies show that listening to your favorite music really does make you feel better--calmer, happier, and more positive. Another study showed that half an hour of iPod time lowers the stress hormone cortisol, boosts feel-good endorphins, and fortifies the immune system by raising levels of immunoglobulin A.

  6. Many people report that sucking on zinc lozenges, taking extra vitamins B and C, as well as the amino acid lysine helps the canker sores to heal faster. These products are available at the drug store.

  7. Ask your druggist for the latest over-the-counter remedies that may help the canker sores heal more quickly.

  8. If canker sores recur, get checked for food allergies related to dairy and wheat consumption.
Above all, don’t get discouraged--take action to make your canker sores less painful and less frequent.
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