Cold Sores

Cold Sores, also known as fever sores or fever blisters, are clusters of fluid-filled blisters that form on the lips and outer edge of the mouth. Cold Sores are not synonymous with canker sores. Cold sores are a contagious infection wherein the blisters appear on the outside of the mouth while canker sores are not contagious and form on the soft tissue inside of the mouth including the tongue, gums and inner cheek.

Cold Sores are relatively common and cannot be prevented. They usually disappear within a few days after their formation without any treatment. However, topical ointments and antiviral medicines can be used to alleviate the discomfort caused by cold sores and to contribute to a faster healing process.

Colitis typically affects individuals who are under 30 years of age and in rare cases it also affects individuals who are 60 years of age or older.

Causes and Risk Factors

Cold Sores are typically caused by the Herpes Simplex Type 1 Virus (HSV-1). Herpes Simplex Type 2 Virus, associated with genital herpes, has also been identified as a probable cause of cold sores. These viruses usually appear in the body when the immune system is weakened which is why cold sores typically form after a bout of fever or cold.

Cold Sores are contagious. Therefore, cold sores can be contracted if the skin comes into contact with individuals who are suffering from this condition. Cold sores can also be spread by sharing utensils, towels, razors, and clothing in addition to coughing, sneezing, touching saliva of an infected person or kissing an infected person.

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After an outbreak of cold sores appears for the first time, the infection-causing virus remains in the nerves or skin surrounding the outbroken area until something incites another outbreak. Cold, flu, seasonal changes, exposure to sun and menstruation are some of the possible risk factors that incite an episode of cold sores.

Immune System: Ironically, the body’s own immune system can cause colitis while attempting to remove any virus or bacteria that is present in the body. The immune system sometimes overreacts and causes inflammation in the colon. In some cases, the microorganisms that invade the body cause inflammation by generating an immune response.
Heredity: This may not be a direct cause but heredity is a definite risk factor. Although the risk is not dramatically higher, individuals with a family history of colitis are more likely to develop it than others who lack such history.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain toxins, specific food habits, lifestyle or weather can lead to colitis. This could be the reason that incidences of colitis are not distributed evenly among areas.
Gastrointestinal or Bariatric Surgery: People who have undergone any form of gastrointestinal or bariatric surgery such as the laproscopic bariatric surgery, the bariatric bypass surgery, the roux-en-y (RNY), the duodenal switch (DS), the biliopancreatic diversion (BD), the vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG), the sapala-wood micropuch, and adjustable gastric banding (AGB) have a higher risk in developing colitis than others who have not undergone such surgeries.
Antibiotics: Some antibiotics are known to disturb the normal functioning and the healthy bacteria population in the digestive tract which may lead to colitis.
Chronic Constipation and excessive use of Laxatives: Constipation may cause blockage in the colon by dried fecal matter which can lead to irritation. The excessive use of laxatives for inducing bowel movements enhances irritation which causes inflammation and leads to colitis.
Stress: Stress was previously believed to be a major contributing cause of colitis. However, research has revealed that stress can only worsen colitis rather than cause it.

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