Cold Sores

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Cold Sores Guide

Christine Jeffries

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Can Your Cold Sores Indicate Later Alzheimer's or Cognitive Decline?

By Susan Cody HERWriter Guide
cold sores may be indicators of cognitive decline or Alzheimer's MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

An article on CNN.com caught my eye because I'm suffering greatly at the moment with a rotten cold sore right in the middle of my lower lip.

I blame my cold sores on having played spin-the-bottle when all of us neighborhood kids were 14 and bored one summer.

One girl said she couldn't kiss a guy because of her cold sore and he said he didn't mind (desperate times!). They had a big old kissing session despite that glaring open sore on her lip!

We all thought it was gross but it didn't occur to us that down the line we'd be suffering on occasion too.

Cold sores are a very common form of the herpes simplex virus HSV-1, which is different from its relative HSV-2 that causes genital herpes. It is spread from kissing or sharing makeup with a person who has the virus.

Because we're such a kissy society, we pass it along to our babies, kids, partners and then they do ... and so the virus -- like any virus -- is easily spread.

Cold sores are painful blisters that start off with a tingling sensation and quickly turn into open sores They generally appear on the lips but can also spread about the mouth area, inside or on the skin around the mouth.

They have a tendency to become dry and split open again and bleed, or remain open due to constant activity of the mouth, like eating, talking, yawning, etc.

Cold sores can take anywhere from 5-10 days to heal and often re-emerge in times of stress or when a person's immune system is lo. This is a similar pattern found for many viruses.

Columbia University studied more than 1500 people over a period of eight years to determine how antibodies in the body react to various viruses, including the herpes virus.

Researchers devised a scale called the "infectious burden index". People who showed high levels on this scale were more likely to have worse cognitive abilities.

The study found that those who had the herpes HSV-1 virus had a greater risk of cognitive impairment. An article about this study in CNN also mentioned that previous studies showed a possible link between Alzheimer's disease and herpes simplex type 1 infections.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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