The term “aphthae” refers to small inflamed bulges in the oral cavity, which are perceived by those affected as enormously disturbing and painful. In the majority of cases, aphthae appear directly on the oral mucosa in the area of the cheeks and the oral vestibule (vestibulum), sometimes they can also be found on the tongue, the palate, the gums and even in the genital area. The throat and tonsils are also a preferred place for the formation of these small mucous membrane bulges.
Not every conspicuous bulge in the oral cavity must be an aphthae. However, small, yellow-whitish colored blisters can be assumed to be an aphthae. An aphthae in the throat is characterised by a circular to oval, sharply defined whitish depression in the oral mucosa, which is often accompanied by pain.
Aphtae can occur in one or more cases and are not only located in the throat but also on the tongue, inside of the lip or cheek. The whitish depressions are covered with a film, a so-called fibrin coating, and around the aphtae the oral mucosa is usually severely reddened. Aphtae pass through a stage of a primarily developing blister, which then dissolves, leaving a depression.
In most affected people, the aphthae in the throat area repeatedly occur in similar places and subside spontaneously. About 10% of the population is affected by regular aphthae formation. Causes and therapy still leave dentists and doctors with some mysteries, as there is still no scientifically proven reason for the development.
Causes for aphthae in the throat
The causes for the development of aphthae in the throat are still largely unexplained. However, it is known that some factors promote the formation of such a pathological process. Experts have been assuming for years that aphthae in the throat are caused by an interaction between genetic factors and unfavourable behaviour.
In many cases, aphthae are preceded by specific mucous membrane injuries in the throat. In addition, various foods and/or deficiencies can be causative. In particular, a deficiency of vitamin B12, iron deficiency and/or folic acid is believed to promote the formation of aphthae.
Which specific food or food components favour the formation of aphthae in the throat seems to be different for each individual. In many cases acidic foods seem to be like: Also different sweets and raw tomatoes are attributed a certain connection with the occurrence of aphthae in the throat. Another cause seems to be stress and lack of sleep over a longer period of time.
However, this is an unspecific cause, as stress has a general inhibitory effect on the immune system due to the rising cortisol level, thus not only increasing the formation of aphthae but also the general susceptibility to infections. Although aphthae occurs in a similar way to a simple herpes disease, which recurs from time to time, aphthae must be clearly distinguished from herpes. Herpes is caused by viruses, whereas aphthae is not related to viruses.
There is no evidence whatsoever that aphthae are infectious, as tests have not been able to detect bacteria, viruses or fungi for their development. The only known fact is that the inflammation values in the blood are elevated in an aphthae. In 30-40% of those affected, a familial accumulation of the painful inflammation in the mouth has been proven.
These are often chronically recurring aphthae, which develop every two to three months for decades and then subside as if by magic. Furthermore, the consumption of gluten can cause aphthae in cases of gluten intolerance. A hormonal change, such as in pregnancy or during menopause, is also suspected of causing aphthae.
In general, women are more frequently affected than men. In addition, patients who smoke have a much lower tendency to develop aphthae than non-smokers, which again poses a puzzle to researchers. The scientifically proven cause of aphthae, which develop in phases, is Behcet’s disease.
This systemic disease is associated with the intermittent formation of aphthae in the mouth or on organs that are also found in the genital area. These symptoms also include an inflammation of the eye chamber in purulent iris of the eye. These three main symptoms are characteristic of Behcet’s disease. – Fruit
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