Small painful mouth sores can be anywhere in the mouth lips, soft palate, hard palate, cheeks, gum base, tongue and even on the roof of the mouth. When situated inside the mouth, they can cause pain during eating or swallowing, especially with hot or spicy foods. A bigger cause for concern is that these mouth sores or mouth ulcers or canker sores could be an indication of an underlying health condition. A lot of chronic diseases, including HIV, herpes, and syphilis, manifest themselves as mouth sores. The following are some of the health conditions to watch out for when you have mouth sores. Each disease has a characteristic appearance and so very often are easy to identify.
1. Herpes simplex (HSV1): The herpes simplex virus causes sores on the lips only which are usually painful with red blisters that last about 10 to 14 days. These are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and the sores appear about 20 days after contracting the virus. Also, once they enter the system, they can cause recurrent attacks especially when the immunity is low.
2. Canker sore: The most common type of mouth ulcer, they are also known as aphthous ulcers and are usually seen on the soft tissues of the mouth (not the hard palate or the gum base). These are generally innocuous and heal within 5 to 7 days. Do reach out for medical help if there are more than 5 to 6 bouts of canker sores in a year.
3. Oral thrush: Also known as candidiasis, this is where there are whitish lesions on the tongue and the insides of the mouth. Candida is a fungus that is normally present in the mouth, but when the immune system is weakened, it can lead to an infection, orally manifested as white lesions. These are typical and appear in toddlers and in patients with anemia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer patients on chemotherapy.
4. HIV/AIDS: Another disease which first can be diagnosed in the mouth is HIV/AIDS. In the first stages of infection, known as an acute retroviral syndrome, where the first symptoms of the disease begin to manifest, oral ulcers are one of the first symptoms. With the other associated symptoms, more workup for diagnosis should be done followed by appropriate treatment.
5. Oral cancers: The lining of the inside of the mouth can develop cancer and usually it appears in the form of chronic non-healing ulcer that just does not go away. Seen anywhere in the mouth, nonhealing ulcers are a cause for concern and should be investigated and treated.
As seen above, mouth sores may be harmless often, but in some cases, may have something more to tell about the health in some cases.