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Affecting 20% of the Population……  (I hope not you)

The absolute bane of my infancy, my childhood, my teenage and early adult years was mouth ulcers (aka canker sores), those pesky little eruptions that cause excruciating pain to our lips, cheeks and tongue from time to time.

Except in my case it was almost ALL the time.

These years were spent sucking Rinstead Pastilles and ingesting more than the recommended daily dose of Bonjela or Medijel, all external applications for something caused deep within.

Relief was always welcome, albeit short term.

I don’t know who I offended in a past life but my ulcers started at 11 months old.  As I grew they tended to come in clusters rather than one by one each lasting for about a fortnight.  

At school I went through the “C” stream because paying attention while in pain was not high on my list of priorities.

My 21st birthday ‘present’ was 44 separate mouth ulcers, three of which were on my uvula (the dangly structure at the top of the throat).

In 1988 I kept a diary marking a red dot for each day I had an ulcer; two dots for two ulcer’s etc.  There were 8 days in the whole year I was completely ulcer-free!

Eating heartily and speaking clearly were not my strong points.  

The main causes of my ulcers?  Highly ascorbic fruits like oranges, rhubarb and gooseberries, biting my lips or any physical impact to my mouth from sports or unplanned head-banging while wild dancing in the 70’s

At the age of ten I went to a school where we had no option but to finish ALL the food on our plates.  Bloody rhubarb!

In the 1960’s a doctor in Scotland told my mother that my mouth ulcers were caused by “breathing cold air” directly into my mouth, thus bringing about the painful reaction.  

In the 1980’s a dentist surgically cut out an ulcer to have it analysed.  

Aaaargh!  Why on earth did I submit myself to these?  Probably because the doctor and the dentist carried the perceived authority of a white coat.

Even at restaurants it was often difficult navigating a menu with a batch of painful ulcers on my tongue and/or lips.  Most alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine were a no-no; whisky, Scotland’s ‘Auld Medicine’ was the exception as it had a cauterising effect.

Mouth Ulcers: There’s a happy ending to this.  

It took one visit only to an Allergy Clinic to be tested for specific foods that I was sensitive to. 

I left with some drops they created for me and I’ve rarely had an ulcer since.  Eternal thanks to my big sis for suggesting that life-changing option!

That’s how ulcers played an unwelcome role in my life, but I’m not alone – mouth ulcers affect up to 20% of the population, some women developing them during hormonal changes such as pregnancy or their monthly period.

Look up ‘mouth ulcers’ or ‘mouth ulcer remedies’  on your internet browser and you’ll probably be guided to have good oral hygiene, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals and cut down on stress.

Easier said than done.

From experience, my personal recommendations would be:

•  see an allergy practitioner to determine what’s causing your ulcers (and your stress). Stress increases your cortisol production which in turn weakens your immune system making you more susceptible to infections and inflammations. Ask about the possibility of autoimmune diseases in general or more specifically Herpes Simplex Virus Infection, Sutton disease II and Behcet’s disease.

•  rinse your mouth out with a good quality salt in warm water – Celtic Sea Salt was always my choice as it’s rich in minerals and valuable trace elements. Avoid supermarket salt as it has usually been stripped of all useful minerals.

•  try the heavy artillery approach – drop a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt directly    onto the ulcer.  It’ll make you dance like a whirling dervish for a few moments but I’ve done this many times.

•  gargle with a few drops of iodine in a small glass of water. Iodine is one of Nature’s gifts to humanity and it kills harmful bacteria in your mouth.

•  stop using irritating toothpastes, especially those with fluoride. Despite what     your dentist may tell you fluoride is toxic and has little if any benefit for your teeth and gums.

Graeme Dinnen

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