Cold Sores (To Reduce)
When you see a cute baby, a cuddly pet or a gorgeous hunk, it’s almost instinctual to pucker up for a kiss. For most, the urge is virtually impossible to resist. But, perhaps knowing that kissing can spread some pretty vile infections will give you pause for thought. Certainly it’s something your potentially hormone-riddled teenagers should be made aware of.
Around 95% of people have the Herpes Simplex Virus-1. The virus usually remains dormant, but when the immune system is down, symptoms like cold sores appear. This is important to note because protecting your baby or child from people kissing them is a good defense against the virus manifesting. Cold sores are commonly linked in people’s minds with kissing and many a teenager has had to endure teasing about the growing bump on their lip because of that connotation. Another commonly known ‘kissing disease’ is infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever (a viral infection causing fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, especially in the neck). Glandular fever’s caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is one of the most common human viruses; in fact, it’s estimated that around 95% of adults between the ages of 30-40 in the US are affected, so it’s difficult to stay unaffected.
Another common virus is cytomegalovirus (CMV) and it affects most people by the time they’re teenagers. Once infected, you’re infected for life. Although the virus usually lies dormant, it’s linked to chickenpox and mononucleosis. Hepatitis A and C are other viruses that could be transmitted through saliva, (hepatitis C is also transmitted via blood).
Hand, foot and mouth disease isn’t something that’s earmarked for cattle alone. The coxsackie virus is the cause and is spread via open sores in your mouth. Children are especially vulnerable; specifically those who attend day care because the virus spreads by way of a faecal-oral route and this could be exacerbated by nappy changes.
Tooth decay is also something that doctors say can be transmittable – streptococcus mutans is the main bacteria implicated with tooth decay. What’s interesting, though, is that moms can infect their teething babies.
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
While these are all common infections, doctors don’t normally test for them as a matter of routine. Certainly, if you present with related symptoms and you’re deemed to be in a high risk category (for example, coxsackie in young children who regularly attend nursery school), tests may be ordered. It’s rare for a test for coxsackie to be ordered, however, due to the length of time needed to complete the test – diagnosis is far more likely to be made based on presenting symptoms such as blister-like rash on hands, feet and mouth in a child with a mild fever. Blood tests are used to check for the Herpes Simplex Virus-1, Epstein Barr, hepatitis and CMV.
It’s not entirely practical to simply stop kissing anyone ever again (especially since the prevalence of some viruses is so high), but you may want to encourage your children to rather blow kisses or sign off their instant messages with a *mwah* or a few x’s instead of physically kissing their friends. The best solution is to boost your immune system so you’re less susceptible to infections. There’s no one action or medication that will protect you, but ensuring you eat a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise and avoid too much stress will help in keeping your immune system healthy. There are various supplements that can assist in boosting your immune system.
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