Also known as canker sores and ulcers, mouth sores usually result from bite injuries or allergic reactions. They can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Unlike cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HS1 and HS2) and develop on the lips and the skin around the mouth, non-Herpes related mouth sores can form on the gums, tongue, lips, the lining of the cheeks and throat. Canker sores are not contagious, and usually clear up on their own. They tend to be painful and can be treated with topical over the counter analgesics, mouthwashes and rinses. If mouth sores do not resolve on their own and last longer than three weeks, it may be necessary to seek treatment from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.
Common Causes of Mouth Ulcers and Canker Sores
Accidental biting is the most common cause, along with friction from toothbrushing, orthodontics or dentures. Diet can also play a role, in the form of food allergies to anything from coffee, chocolate and highly acidic foods and citrus fruits. Deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid, B12, iron, folate and zinc can also cause mouth ulcers. Sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and oral bacteria like Helicobacter pylori (which is also responsible for stomach ulcers) can cause lesions in the mouth as well.
Lifestyle factors like smoking and elevated stress levels are another cause. Ulcers that persist for more than a few weeks, do not respond to self-care and over the counter treatments and are accompanied by additional symptoms like fever, excessive pain, swelling and difficulty eating and drinking, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Schedule an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- swollen lymph nodes
- difficulty swallowing or speaking
Is an Underlying Medical Condition Causing My Mouth Sores?
Persistent and chronic mouth sores can sometimes be a symptom of immune deficiencies or inflammatory conditions like lupus, Celiac, Behcet's and Chron's Disease. Contact an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) for more information on treatment options and symptom relief.
If you hear only mumbling when other people speak, need the television louder than others or strain to hear conversations, you may havehearing loss. Hearing loss is more common as we age, but can occur for a variety of reasons. If you think what you’re experiencing may be hearing loss, talk to your ear, nose and throat doctor about a hearing aid.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is more than just a lowering of the volume. Hearing loss may make it difficult to distinguish one sound from another. To consider whether you need a hearing aid, ask yourself if you experience any of the following:
- Needing the phone volume turned all the way up
- Difficulty understanding people when you can’t see their faces
- Feeling impatient and withdrawn because conversations are becoming difficult
- Difficulty hearing high pitched sounds
- Difficulty focusing when more than one person speaks
If you experiencing any of these common symptoms of hearing loss, make an appointment with your ENT for a hearing test and medical evaluation.
What Can a Hearing Aid Do?
A hearing aid will help to amplify the sound to a volume that you can comfortably hear. It can also improve your ability to understand speech so it doesn’t sound like people are mumbling to you. Certain hearing aids can help to amplify the higher pitched sounds. They can also enable you to hear someone speaking in a noisy environment.
One or Two Hearing Aids?
Some people wonder if they need a hearing aid for each ear. Even if you only have hearing loss in one of your ears, your doctor may recommend wearing a hearing aid in each ear to improve the quality of sound.
If you think it may be time about a hearing aid, your ENT has services to meet all your hearing needs. Schedule a consultation today to get on the road to hearing clearer, more vibrant sounds with a hearing aid.
- Hear muffled speech and muffled sounds
- Have difficulty distinguishing words from background noise
- Need people to speak more clearly, loudly and slowly
- Have trouble hearing consonants
- Tend to withdraw from conversations
- Avoid social situations
- An improved, more positive view of life
- Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
- Closer personal relationships
- Less depression
- Pain in your upper jaws or teeth, eyes, nose or forehead
- A yellowish-green discharge when you blow your nose
- Congestion caused from swelling in your sinuses
- Severe headaches and earaches
- A sore throat and persistent cough
- Use a humidifier, especially in your bedroom; this keeps the air in your house moist, which soothes your sinuses. Dry air irritates your nasal passages and can cause increased mucus production, resulting in congestion and a sinus infection.
- Try an over-the-counter nasal irrigation kit; these kits, when used daily, can keep your nasal passages clean and free of mucus so bacteria won’t have a place to breed, causing a sinus infection. The saline solution also works to soothe your nasal passages.
- Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your face, nose, mouth or eyes; this helps to prevent spreading germs and bacteria to other places of your body.
- Stop smoking, because it increases mucus production and irritates your sinuses, providing an environment perfect for bacteria.
- Avoid alcohol, because alcohol can make your sinuses irritated and swollen, resulting in a sinus infection.
- Eat healthy and take your vitamins, especially vitamin C, and get sufficient exercise to keep your immune system at its peak so you can fight off a sinus infection.
- Taking over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
- Irrigating your nasal passages with saline and water
- Trying linens and pillowcases that are allergy-proof
- Placing allergy or HEPA filters in your house, especially your bedroom
- Nasal congestion, a runny nose and watery eyes
- Coughing, wheezing or chest congestion
- A rash, itchy skin or eczema
- An itchy throat, nose or eyes
- Skin tests- during which tiny amounts of different allergens are injected just under your skin; you will know you are allergic to the substance if you see swelling or a rash within 20 minutes.
- Challenge tests- used to diagnose medication and food allergies, during which you inhale or ingest a tiny amount of allergen to test for a reaction
- Blood tests- a sample of your blood is sent to a laboratory where testing is completed
Remember it’s never too early to seek help from an allergist. Your allergist can help you get relief from allergies at any time of the year. Don’t wait! Call today and feel better tomorrow!
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