Oral herpes is a condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes causes sores to break out on your lips, gums, and the inside of your cheeks. People contract oral herpes by exposure to the saliva of an infected person. As it is highly contagious, most people come in contact with oral herpes in their lifetime. Sometimes the disease produces no discernable symptoms, known as an asymptomatic infection. Not knowing that they have the disease, it is easily spread through kissing, sharing food or drink, or other common saliva exposure. Statistics show that asymptomatic herpes is twice as common as having recognizable symptoms.
The first signs of oral herpes include itching and burning of the mouth, lips and tongue. The actual symptoms can include soreness, fever, irritability and body aches. Then blisters form on the mouth, which look like white spots on a red surface. This is the most painful part of the disease and the breakout and accompanying stymptoms can last up to three weeks. After initial infection, the virus moves to the nervous tissue of the spine where it reproduces but becomes dormant. Under the right conditions, like stress or other problems that weaken the immune system, the virus can reactivate and produce symptoms again. Herpes, once contracted can be contained but never completely eliminated from the body.
Oral herpes can develop in babies and children as well as adults. Although the herpes virus is not life threatening in itself, it causes the person not to want to eat or drink, thus risking dehydration. If someone is not able to eat or drink from the disease, it is imperative to see medical care as dehydration, especially in babies, children and the elderly, can be dangerous. They may need to be put on intravenous fluids. People with weakened immune symptoms due to other conditions or the effects of cancer treatment, may develop a more serious viral infection from herpes. The treatment for herpes for people with healthy immune systems may include over the counter pain and fever relievers and in some cases oral rinses and topical medication to reduce the painful symptoms.
According to the Center for Disease Control, genital herpes is the combination of two strains of the herpes virus, herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. Statistics show that one out of every six people in the sexually active age range of 14 to 49 years old will get genital herpes. Many individuals infected by genital herpes experience no symptoms at first, and unknowingly spread the disease to their partner through sexual activity.
If you suspect that your or your partner have genital herpes, it is important to get tested as soon as possible, and educate yourself on the signs and symptoms so that you can live a normal, healthy life between breakouts. If you are pregnant, it is important to inform your doctor as soon as you suspect that you may have been exposed to or have contracted genital herpes, as like other diseases, it may affect your pregnancy.
Like oral herpes, genital herpes has no cure; however, there are some medicine that are shown to reduce the chance of outbreaks and lessen their severity.