Why do I get canker sores preceeded by a sore throat?
October 4, 2007 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Why do I get canker sores preceded by a sore throat?

Just this past week, it happened to me again - I get a sore throat, and just as I feel the sore throat go away, I feel a canker sore develop. Now instead of a sore throat, I have a nasty canker sore on the inside of my lip. This has happened quite a few times to me and it's really odd that I can tell when the sore throat goes away and start to feel a canker sore develop.

I'm just curious - why am I getting canker sores that follows a sore throat? I do get canker sores without sore throats, though I can't recall the last time I've had a sore throat that was followed by canker sores.

I usually manage to treat my canker sore all right, but I'm just curious if there's a specific reason why this phenomena happens to me.
posted by champthom to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Canker sores can be viral. They're not quite sure what they are, but viruses are likely one cause. This should be enough reasoning, because viruses are weird and do weird things to people.

Personally, I'm prone to viral rashes when I get a cold. My brother had viruses that messed with his stomach nerves. A sore throat isn't unheard of. (Especially with Coxsackie, btw, which also comes with a bonus fever.)
posted by cobaltnine at 6:40 PM on October 4, 2007

Man, I had the weirdest sore throat a couple of years ago, when I had sores on my tongue! Bleeeagh! I'd never had such a thing before (or since). Made trying to eat anything painful.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:47 PM on October 4, 2007

Canker sores and sore throats can both be the body's response to stress. Does that ring true for you at all?
posted by toxic at 7:47 PM on October 4, 2007

I have the exact same problem. For me, it helps if I don't bite my lip, and I sleep properly. Maybe these symptoms are all tied to stress, as above posters have hinted.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 8:22 PM on October 4, 2007

I have this too and figured out that - for me - it's that I actually get canker sores on my throat, which makes it very sore. (Doctor looked in there once when I thought I was getting strep; sure enough, canker sores. It sucks.) Once I have one sore I will often have a couple more afterward, elsewhere in the mouth. Maybe this is what's going on in your case?

Incidentally, I used to get them all the damn time, but then I tried removing vinegar from my diet. Now I get sores only once in a great while. No vinaigrettes (sigh), but no more agony.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:23 PM on October 4, 2007

Same thing happened to me during a hugely stressful period in the Spring. The doctor called the resulting sore throat/canker sore an Aphthous Ulcer. The reading I did during that time seemed to suggest a depressed immune system (stress induced), but no one seems to know absolutely.

Oh...and the doctor gave me some brew called magic mouthwash. It contained Benadryl, Lidocaine, and Maalox (reduce inflammation, numb the area, coat the sore for protection). It numbed my whole mouth, actually, but allowed me to eat at least!
posted by Womanscientist at 8:40 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've heard that allergies can cause canker sores; maybe you're getting an allergic reaction that hits your throat first?
posted by crinklebat at 9:40 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I got the cankers-sores-on-my-tongue thing once after having a sore throat for a week. It was all horrible. Since I worked in medicine for so long I hardly trust it at all, so I went to see the accupuncturist downtown. He gave me a few pokes and handed me a bottle of this foul-smelling shit called 'watermelon frost'. It tasted like the bottom of a garbage can and looked like dirt, but I'll be damned if it didn't make my tongue feel better.

As to causes for your sores; maybe some kind of herpes, but probably stress has alot to do with it in any case. Lowered immune system allowing whatever virus to get jiggy with the soft tissues of your mouth, perhaps.
posted by Pecinpah at 4:28 AM on October 5, 2007

I've had cankers on and off for most of my life. It's been explained to me as a viral thing. I can recommend Colgate's Peroxyl Mouthwash when you feel one coming on. If you catch it earlier, it beats those babies right back down. If they fully flower, Peroxyl cuts the duration significantly. It's over-the-counter stuff.
posted by lpsguy at 6:16 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, look for toothpaste without sodium laurylate. I found the switching to toothpaste without it (Rembrant Sensitive or Biotene) reduced the occurence by an order of magnitude. Also n'thing the link to low sleep, stress, colds, all that.

A few times when I was really run down, I had such awful ones that I got some oral steroids from the doc, which helped enormously.
posted by canine epigram at 8:08 AM on October 5, 2007

Cold sores are (generally) caused by a herpes virus, which sits dormant in your nerve until it re-emerges, usually because of some stress. In my experience, my cold sores tip off with a pain in the neck on the same side as the cold sore, sometimes a swollen lymph node as well. As I understand it, the phenomenon is happening because while the eruption may be at a localized area, the virus is affecting a wider zone along the nerve it resides in.
posted by norm at 9:58 AM on October 5, 2007

Just for the record, cold sores are not the same thing as canker sores. [WARNING: gross mouth pics at those links]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mod LobsterMitten up! Just to be explicit, canker sores are not thought to be caused by a virus, as is the case with cold sores. Additionally, they're not thought to be contagious. More info can be found on the Mayo Clinic site. It's understandable that people are confused as I've even met certain doctors who asserted that canker sores were caused by the Herpes virus.

As for an answer to your question, I'd go with Womanscientist's advice FTW. I gotta get a hold of that magic mouthwash. A bad canker can ruin my week!
posted by funkiwan at 11:30 AM on October 5, 2007

Yeah, go figure. It's obvious from the pictures that what I thought were cold sores are actually canker sores, and thus my observation is worthless, as I don't think I've ever had a cold sore.
posted by norm at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2007

Well, your observation about your experience isn't worthless, since it's about canker sores rather than cold sores.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:36 PM on October 5, 2007

Definitely sounds like stress, but I'm seconding canine epigram on the toothpaste recommendation. Since I quit using toothpaste with sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate I've had less than a third as many canker sores.
posted by moonlet at 4:39 PM on October 5, 2007

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