Canker sore is a term used to describe a condition in which small, round ulcers develop in the mouth. Researchers do not have a complete understanding to what causes these lesions, but there are some factors linked to the condition, including allergies to certain types of food, irritation from spicy and sour foods, hormonal imbalance or physical trauma to the mouth like accidental cheek biting or vigorous teeth brushing.
It is suspected that somewhere between 5 and 66% of the population at some point had the condition, but in most populations that number is closer to 20% of individuals affected, which means the canker sores a very common condition. It is characterized by small, oval or round lesions with whitish or yellowish center and a red, inflamed border that develop only in the mouth, specifically inside the lips, on the gums and tongue, unlike cold sores which appear on the outside of the mouth, under the nose and under the chin. There is a strong tingling, itching and painful sensation before they appear.
Food allergies and intolerance affect almost every person at some point in their life. They include two main responses of the immune system. One is making a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E, or IgE for short, which circulates through the body via blood. The second is a cell called mast, which can be found in every tissue in the body, mostly in places where allergic reactions occur, such as the skin, throat and nose, lungs and gastrointestinal tract.
Allergies develop when the immune system identifies food proteins as hazardous and sends a response where immunoglobulin E attaches itself to the surface of the mast cell which in turn releases chemicals such as histamine. Depending on the tissue in which the chemical are released they cause a person to have different food allergy symptoms.
If the mast cell releases chemicals the throat, nose or ears, the symptoms include itching and swelling in the mouth and may have swallowing and even breathing.
Whether a person forms IgE against something as benevolent as food is a hereditary predisposition. For example, people with two allergic parents have a greater chance of having food allergies than those with one allergic parent.
Foods that are most likely to trigger an allergic onset of canker sores include milk and dairy products such as cheese, buttermilk and ice cream, nuts, tree nuts, wallnuts, sunflower seeds, wheat and whole wheat food and chocolate.
You should also avid foods rich with gluten, vegetables and fruits containing citric acid such as lemons, oranges, apples, pineapples, strawberries and figs, coffee, cocoa, vinegar and any pickled food.
If you suspect you have food allergies, schedule an appointment with your doctor so he may recommend the type of allergy test most suitable for you. Alternatively, you can keep a diary and write down the foods you eat during the day, so if an outbreak of canker sores happened, you can pinpoint the culprit more easily.