When Fabio got popped in the face by a goose (really!) while riding on the Apollo's Chariot roller coaster in Williamsburg, Va., it's hard to say what hurt more, his dignity or his mouth. But when you get a canker sore, there's no doubt — it's the mouth that's causing you pain. No one is sure why these mouth ulcers (they have NO relationship to herpes-triggered cold sores) pop up in the mucous membranes that line the cheeks, gums, and tongue, but they seem to run in families, affect women more than men, and are related to stress, food allergies, hormonal shifts, or poor nutrition. Luckily, they're not contagious. To ease the discomfort:
• Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the affected area, or rinse your mouth with a solution of 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons baking soda.
• Melt ice chips against the sore.
• If you think they're related to an allergy, an antihistamine may help. Be sure to eliminate the offending food from your diet!
• Avoid spicy or acidic foods.
• Brush your teeth gently!
• There are over-the-counter numbing gels; ask your pharmacist about them, but use them sparingly.
• Once you've eased the discomfort, turn your attention to stress relief. Practicing meditation daily and getting enough physical activity may help prevent outbreaks.
If you do get canker sores more than a couple times a year, or they don't go away within a week or two, talk to your doc. They may be a sign of vitamin deficiency (a blood test will tell you) or bacterial infection.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.