The Signs And Symptoms Of Canker Sores

What are canker sores? Also called aphthous ulcers, canker sores are round or oval sores that occur in the mouth, usually inside the lip, cheeks, floor of the mouth or on the tongue. They may appear white or red, raw and very tender. Canker sores are different from cold sores as cold sores are due to a virus, and canker sores may be due to irritation, stress or other underlying reasons. Approximately one out of 10 people have recurrent aphthous ulcers or canker sores.


What causes canker sores? Canker sores can have numerous causes, but are most commonly due to:

  • Trauma or irritation

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Dietary reasons

  • Underlying systemic health issues

They are different than cold sores as canker sores are not caused due to the herpes virus. There may be serious underlying health problems that can cause you to develop frequent canker sores.

Signs And Symptoms

Canker sores are usually smaller than cold sores, only taking up about three to six millimeters of space. They are round or oval with a red or raw appearance. If you have multiple canker sores or canker sores in the throat, it is most likely due to a virus such as the strain that causes cold sores.

Most aphthous ulcers or canker sores are tender and typically last 10 to 14 days. Canker sores on the tongue, canker sores in your mouth, under the tongue, or on the lips are all normal locations. Concerns arise when the canker sores or aphthous ulcers are frequent, recurring or chronic.

If you have chronic canker sores that recur on a frequent basis, you should know that canker sores or other forms of oral blisters, cold sores or ulcers are a symptom of underlying health problems such as:

  • Gluten intolerance

  • Celiac disease

  • Crohns disease

  • Irritable bowel disease

  • HIV

  • Nutritional deficiency

  • Leukemia

  • Behcets Syndrome

  • Drug induced (Fosamax, beta-blockers, NSAIDS)

If you have a condition such as gluten intolerance, your canker sores may be a natural warning to alert you to alter your diet.

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