Mouth ulcers can be caused by the following:
1. Viral Infections
The Herpes Simplex Virus causes cold sores. The virus causes painful ulcers that are usually located over the lips or mouth. Although the ulcers may recover, the virus usually lies dormant (inactive) but can be activated by various triggers such as stress, or in women, their menstrual period. Other virus such as the Coxsackie, Varicella and HIV viruses can also cause mouth ulcers.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies
Deficiencies of certain vitamins (e.g. vitamin B12) and minerals (e.g iron, folate) can also predispose a person to recurrent ulcers.
Certain medications can cause ulcers as a side effect. These include drugs such as bisphosphonates (used for osteoporosis), NSAIDs (a class of pain-killer), beta-blockers and certain cytotoxic drugs.
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease especially Crohn’s disease may also develop recurrent mouth ulcers.
5. Behçet’s Disease
Behçet’s disease is a poorly understood disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body. Patients may develop recurrent mouth ulcers, eye inflammation, skin rashes as well as genital sores.
6. Connective Tissue Diseases
Patients with connective tissue diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Reactive Arthritis and Sweet’s Syndrome (rare skin disease, characterised by fever and appearance of tender solid red lumps).
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