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How does aphthous stomatitis (canker sore) affect the body?

The main way that aphthous stomatitis affects the body is by producing ulcers in the soft tissues inside the mouth. These ulcers are quite painful considering that they are usually small in size. Some people feel a tenderness in the area a day or so before an ulcer appears. Swollen lymph glands, a slight fever, and a feeling of tiredness may also accompany aphthous stomatitis. After about 10 days, the ulcers disappear.

In most cases, a canker sore will only cause symptoms at the site of the sore. When a canker sore is beginning, you may feel a tingling in your mouth -- a sign that a sore is going to emerge. This will usually progress to a bump in the mouth that is bright pink or red. The spot develops into an open sore, or ulcer, that is white at the center and red or pink around the edges. Within a few days, it should go away.

In some cases, however, aphthous stomatitis (the medical term for canker sore) will cause more general symptoms throughout your body. These include a general feeling of discomfort (called malaise), swollen lymph nodes, and fever. These unpleasant symptoms should get better within a week or 10 days. If you notice symptoms (or the sore) for longer than two weeks, call your doctor.

Canker sores are not contagious, but can return frequently. You may have one or several. Their exact cause is not known for certain. Some experts believe that immune system problems, bacteria or viruses may be involved. Canker sores usually heal on their own within a week or two.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.