3

votes

Why am I getting canker sores?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Hi there, This is my first question on here, so please forgive me for any shortcomings in wording, content, redundancy, or anything else.

I read a few other posts that were about how people have noticed decreased frequency of canker sores (aka mouth ulcers / aphthous ulcers / aphthous stomatitis... NOT herpes cold sores) while on paleo or after going gluten free. My problem is that I seem to be getting them a lot MORE frequently these days, and I am trying to figure out whether it's something I'm eating, ie, something paleo-related, or something else.

I went fairly strict (Nora Gedgaudas-style) primal/paleo about 8 months ago. I've had a few interludes of relapse in my adherence, but in general my diet has been ketogenic and clean for most of that time. Last month, I started getting semi-frequent canker sores that are extremely painful and distracting. They are always in the same place, which is the underside of the tip of my tongue. Some probably relevant tidbits:

  1. I have a dental appliance on the inside of my front lower teeth (like, right where that part of my tongue hits), kinda like braces. It doesn't seem to ever actually break the skin on my tongue, but it sure exacerbates the irritation once I already have a sore there.
  2. my toothpaste DOES NOT contain SLS
  3. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS, so hormonal imbalance/insulin resistance are pretty big for me. I've only had one period since I noticed the canker sores, but it's possible they're corresponding with my hormonal cycles (or lack thereof?)
  4. I've never identified as someone who gets frequent canker sores, but I remember that when I used to get them as a kid, it always seemed to correspond with sugar binges
  5. I saw one study that linked canker sores to cow dairy intolerance, which I have, but am not super strict about avoiding it (like, if a friend is eating something awesome I'll try a bite... but it's not a regular part of my diet)
  6. I just started a super intensive nursing program and am generally pretty stressed and probably not sleeping enough (like 6-7 hours a night)

... so basically, it could be any or all of these things, or none of them, but I'm just wondering if anyone has any insight, or if anyone else has had the same experience and wants to illuminate me on whether we share any other 'risk' factors besides eating paleo.

950efde057e2cc301543059b15f44374

(240)

on June 23, 2012
at 09:01 PM

yes, walnuts can be a common trigger....see http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1075570-treatment

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on June 23, 2012
at 03:57 PM

Sorry, will not post prior to coffee again.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 23, 2012
at 02:54 PM

Uhh.. **no**. Canker sores (**not contagious**) aka aphthous stomatitis, inside the mouth, are in no way related to cold sores aka fever blisters aka herpes simplex type 1 (**contagious**), outside the mouth. Nobody truly knows what causes canker sores as they're different in everyone. Allergic reaction to certain food. Faulty immune system. Hormones. GI problems. Stress. An injury to the mouth.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on June 23, 2012
at 02:06 PM

Because you have herpes. Supplement with Nutiva Cococut oil daily, min 1 tbsp. Get some Valtrex too, it will make them go away in a day. Its the gift that keeps on giving.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 23, 2012
at 11:56 AM

I'm thinking #6. Stress is what does me in. I haven't had any for over a year but lo and behold, two formed last week - right before handing off a huge project that was near and dear to me. I loved the work but it was over the top insanely stressful due to the level of perfection needed. Those last days before delivery were the worst and did me in. Grr and ow! Salt water swishes, and avoiding high acidic food, and they went away but.. ow. I feel for you.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 23, 2012
at 11:53 AM

I'm thinking #6. Stress is what does me in. I haven't had any for over a year but lo and behold, two formed last week - right before handing off a huge project that was near and dear to me. I loved the work but it was over the top insanely stressful due to the level of perfection needed. And always the last days are the worst. Salt water swishes, and avoiding high acidic food, and they went away but.. ow. I feel for you.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 23, 2012
at 11:52 AM

I'm thinking #6. Stress is what does me in. I haven't had any for over a year but lo and behold, two formed last week - right before handing off a huge project that was near and dear to me. I loved the work but it was over the top insanely stressful due to the level of perfection needed. Salt water swishes, and avoiding high acidic food, and they went away but.. ow. I feel for you.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on June 18, 2012
at 12:59 PM

Mine almost always used to be followed by a cold, but since going Paleo I no longer catch colds. The worst I get is feeling a little stuffy and throat-scratchy, which disappears within a few hours. The cankers are rare now, too. Hooray for an improved immune system. :)

4cbc4488855b0421943b57de0a9018c2

(212)

on June 18, 2012
at 05:59 AM

I get canker sores when I'm stressed or have had very little sleep. Usually get them the very next day.

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13 Answers

3
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on June 18, 2012
at 08:38 AM

I get them when stressed, I also tend to get them just prior to a cold of some sort. Oddly enough, the sores, minor sinus issues, and some ear-popping are about the worst I get, even when others around me are so sick they are almost praying for a swift death.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on June 18, 2012
at 12:59 PM

Mine almost always used to be followed by a cold, but since going Paleo I no longer catch colds. The worst I get is feeling a little stuffy and throat-scratchy, which disappears within a few hours. The cankers are rare now, too. Hooray for an improved immune system. :)

3
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on June 18, 2012
at 03:59 AM

I get canker sores when my nutrition is lacking. Probably want to track your food intake on something like cronometer.com and see if you are getting enough.

2
8c8b73f69a1bbcf1d818e275cbf1b35e

on June 22, 2012
at 10:36 PM

Stress is a likely culprit. It is quite common to get canker sores when under a greater than normal amount of stress and lack of sleep. Hormonal fluctuations can also play a part but it is not known exactly why. Your dental appliance may also be contributing, due to the rubbing, even it it doesn't appear to break the skin. Some people get canker sores due to vitamin deficiencies, particularly Vit B12, zinc, iron. There was a study done by the Ben Gurion University that showed that supplementing with Vit B12 can really help with outbreaks. You need to take 1000mcg of Vitamin b12 daily - way more than found in the average multi-vitamin. You are off to a good start by eliminating gluten and SLS toothpaste. Other common food irritants include nuts, coffee, chocolate:( and acidic foods like O.J. strawberries, citrus fruits, pineapple, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranate and cranberries, as well as overly spicy foods. For more info on causes, prevention and treatment visit this site: www.mycankersoretreatment.com

Good luck and hope you feel better soon.

2
901d843c6a01089575ef1751a9e6e9fd

on June 18, 2012
at 08:02 AM

I get them when I'm under severe stress.

The only other time I get them is when I eat anything that causes abrasions inside my mouth, eg hard candy.

2
Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on June 18, 2012
at 04:56 AM

My immune system reacts with cankers whenever I'm highly stressed and not getting adequate sleep. When they pop up I know I've pushed my body too hard; I take it as a sign to slow down and recharge as soon as possible. I also take vitamin C, which seems to help.

4cbc4488855b0421943b57de0a9018c2

(212)

on June 18, 2012
at 05:59 AM

I get canker sores when I'm stressed or have had very little sleep. Usually get them the very next day.

2
3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on June 18, 2012
at 01:00 AM

Since I went Paleo, I'd only get a sore in my mouth after eating a low-carb burger at Carl's Junior (no bun, but possibly contaminated with gluten or other stuff while they are preparing it). So maybe it's some food that is not as clean as you think it is.

If it's the dairy, try goat/sheep fermented dairy, not cow one, and not unfermented.

1
121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

on June 23, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Stress is an obvious culprit, but why is it that some people handle stress better than others? Genetic factors aside, it comes down to adequate nutrition.

I used to get canker sores all the time. I tried all the standard tricks -- avoiding certain foods, trying to manage stress, changing toothpastes -- but nothing worked. I found out long ago that calcium helped get rid of them, even though I used to get them back when I still ate dairy (which says something!). It helped, but it didn't solve the problem completely.

What did that, strangely, was vitamin D. After I got tested in 2010 and was found to be low, I increased my intake of vitamin D (I live in a northern climate) to 5000 IU a day. I have honestly not had a canker sore since (I've had sores from accidentally biting my lip, but since fixing my D shortage, those heal faster than my spontaneous sores ever did). This was one of the many things that made me a convert to vitamin D.

I'm not saying that's your problem, though I don't think it's a coincidence that calcium used to help me and vitamin D both raises serum calcium and increases calcium absorption. There are other things that can make a person more susceptible to canker sores. B-vitamin deficiency and iron deficiency (which often gets missed) are all possible causes worth investigating.

One tricky aspect of a paleo diet is that it is not always easy to get enough calcium, so that would be the first thing I would look at (and along with that goes an investigation of your vitamin D status).

"Stress" is kind of a blanket explanation for problems whose objective cause isn't obvious, and it doesn't really help people because it's too inspecific and very difficult for most of us to control. Plus, many of the physical effects of stress are the result of the accelerated nutrient depletion it is known to cause, whether by inadequate diet, increased nutrient demand, or both.

But if you're well-fed (which is harder to achieve than most people think) and well-rested, then you have the tools to cope with stress. Now I can eat just about whatever I want (within the scope of a healthy and nutritious diet mostly devoid of dairy :P ) and I never get them.

1
B33c263fd0fcff8b59e63dd2179e88a7

(151)

on June 23, 2012
at 10:24 AM

My mom claims that fruit that hasn't been washed properly causes them. No idea if that's true, but it's worth looking into.

0
9fa8e78136284f6c96d6878d18240818

on June 29, 2013
at 04:04 AM

Stress is absolutely a factor. 25 years ago between University and then my first job I reached a point where I would always have multiple canker sores in my mouth. Each canker sore would take about 2 weeks to go away. Then I was advised to take B complex (I used B50). Within a few weeks all of my sores went away and from then on I would only rarely get one. That one would quickly go away in a few days instead of 2 weeks. I recommended it to both my brother and mother who had the same problem, and both saw a huge reduction in the frequency of sores. It has been 25 years and the result is the same. Only recently did they find the B12 connection, so I now just look for vitamins with high B12 content. I recommend anyone having problems try B12 supplements, you've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

0
72907a1aefb4559ad1f76beda66eeb3f

on November 02, 2012
at 12:38 PM

I have had braces on for over two years. I was experiencing sores all of the sudden and it was evil! I started eating broth soups and chugging water with lemon, rinsed my mouth with sea salt alot. That helped me.

0
975be4c57ad8f159d7df80732b9edb08

on November 02, 2012
at 04:06 AM

I also have PCOS and when I go of my treatment (birth control) I get AWFUL canker sores, almost continuously until I go back on the BC pills (and it takes a few weeks of being back on). For me it is almost 100% linked to my hormones and PCOS. I get about 1 canker a year when on BC pills but have a whole mouth full when I change pills or discontinue. My skin gets awful when I'm off the BC pills as well.

0
950efde057e2cc301543059b15f44374

(240)

on June 19, 2012
at 08:31 PM

nuts are often the culprit for some, esp walnuts if I remember correctly

950efde057e2cc301543059b15f44374

(240)

on June 23, 2012
at 09:01 PM

yes, walnuts can be a common trigger....see http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1075570-treatment

0
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on June 18, 2012
at 11:03 AM

Canker sores tend to form when there is too much acidity in the mouth. From sugar and acidic foods such as tomatoes and fruits (bananas are the worst for me). Try rinsing your mouth out with a magnesium-based antacid or a baking soda wash after each meal. This will help restore the natural pH of your mouth and will heal your canker sore faster.

If it's recurring in the exact same spot, you could have Aphthous stomatitis. These tend to erupt when the body is under stress and/or is low on certain B vitamins. Try taking a B-complex every day as well as gargling with an alkaline solution.

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