This Week’s Medical Q&A


What are cold sores? I get one every few months, and I hate them, because they look so ugly. Cold sores are due to a virus, specifically a Herpes virus.  This is the same virus that also causes genital herpes, but it is a slightly different version that usually is found above the waist (most commonly on the mouth/lips).  If you have frequent outbreaks, you can be treated with an antiviral medication such as Acyclovir or Valcyclovir which while it doesn’t “cure” you (viruses can’t be cured) it can control your symptoms.  Speak with your doctor about treatment for this problem.


I keep getting mouth ulcers. What can I do to treat them? There are lots of causes for mouth ulcers- viral or fungal most commonly.  Dental problems (such as cavities or poorly fitting dentures) can also cause mouth ulcers as can smoking or chewing tobacco.  You should discuss your problem with your Dentist and have a thorough evaluation and treatment.


I have had a terrible sore throat that has come and gone for weeks. It wakes me at night, and it hurts to swallow. Even moving my neck hurts. I have gargled with Milton, and wrapped socks around my neck at night. I am well over 80 and would appreciate your advice. There are many reasons for sore throats including strep throat and gastroesophageal reflux.  Other neck related issues such as thyroid problems can also cause sore throats and neck aches.  Additionally, non-neck related issues can also cause these symptoms (some people who have heart problems have neck pain instead of chest pain (angina) ).  You need to see your doctor to have a thorough evaluation of all of these possibilities.




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