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It burns and draws in your mouth when you eat tomatoes or drink orange juice? You may have a so-called aphthous ulcer: a small ulcer on the oral mucosa. The spots form when the mucous membrane is inflamed. Aphthae are often smaller than one centimeter and covered by a yellowish coating. For about 10 to 14 days, they interfere significantly with eating and drinking, sometimes with speech - until they disappear again without a trace.

How many people get aphthous ulcers is not clear. Depending on the study, the data on those affected vary between 6 and 66 percent. Women suffer more often than men. Even children can have aphthae. Once you have gotten it, you will discover it again and again.

Where the yellow spots come from is unknown

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Why the mucous membrane is inflamed is unknown. In women, hormone fluctuations may be to blame, some experts suspect. Stress and mental stress should also play a role. Minor injuries from a brace or your own teeth can also cause an aphthous ulcer. Food has not been clearly revealed as an offender.

"Many people get aphthous from a cold, when they were ill or had a lot of stress at work, did not eat properly or slept enough," says dentist Sally Cram in an interview with The New York Times.

In addition, aphthae may be triggered or aggravated by:

  • a lack of iron, folic acid, zinc or vitamin B12, caused by one-sided nutrition;
  • a food intolerance to gluten, the gluten in cereals;
  • a hereditary predisposition: 40 percent of those affected have family members with aphthous ulcers;
  • a reaction of the body to certain bacteria, for example streptococci;
  • a weakened immune system, chronic inflammation or HIV infection.

Some aphthae make their mouths cratered

Physicians distinguish three forms of aphthous ulcers: small, large and massive. The small, the so-called minor aphthae, occurs in about 75 to 80 percent of those affected. This patch type has a diameter of less than five millimeters and is relatively flat. Mostly it sits on the inside of the cheek or on the inner lip area. The mucous pimple disappears after one to two weeks.

10 to 15 percent of those affected have large inflamed spots, known as major aphthae. They usually sit on the lips and on the palate far back in the oral cavity. The large aphthous can grow to a diameter of up to three centimeters and stay up to eight weeks. If the tissue heals, a scar usually remains.

Very unpleasant and very rare are aphthae, which resemble herpes blisters. Experts call them therefore herpetiform aphthae. They form in droves, up to a hundred at a time. They sit throughout the oral cavity like tiny painful mucosal craters. Only after about two weeks do they disappear again.

Viruses can attack your oral mucosa

If the mucous membrane is inflamed, it does not necessarily have to be aphthous. You may also have herpes. The painful blisters are triggered by viruses and usually sit on the lip. In addition, the herpes viruses can also cause aphthae on the buccal mucosa and on the gums. If your child has aphthous ulcers and blisters on his hands and feet, he or she may have been infected with the so-called Coxsackie virus. This pathogen triggers the so-called hand-foot-mouth disease.

In addition to viruses, fungi attack the oral mucosa: especially children and the elderly are plagued by the so-called thrush, a whitish coating on the mucous membranes. Your dentist can tell if you have oral thrush. Your immune system may be weakened, perhaps a poorly fitting prosthesis will trigger the fungal infection.

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Whether food ensures that the mucous membranes ignite, is not yet clear. 

The following foods may favor aphthous ulcers:

  • Chocolate, nuts, almonds,
  • Cereals such as cereals and cereals,
  • Coffee,
  • Strawberries and tomatoes,
  • Cheese,
  • Gluten, a protein in wheat flour.
  • Symptoms

The nerves are bare in the mouth

Sharp, sweet and sour do not tolerate you well if you have an aphthous. Look into your oral cavity: Some of the yellowish spots are clearly visible on the tongue, others can only be found with a small hand mirror: Aphthas like to hide on the cheek and lip mucosa. Rarely do they choose the palate.


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