Are your cold sores getting worse with age? Aging inevitably has an impact on your health and body’s ability to heal itself. The visible signs of ageing are just cosmetic, but the changes that are happening at a cellular level are more concerning.
One of the most problematic effects of aging is a weakened immune system. Weakening immunity is what makes people more vulnerable to a plethora of infections and viruses as we age. It also slows down our ability to recover from viral health conditions.
Cold sores, a condition that affects millions of people every year, become more prevalent as we get older. There are things that we can all so to help.
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More than 80% of Americans are exposed to the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). In some rare cases, they are caused by HSV-2.
By the age of forty, more than 90% of Americans will have the virus and will be exposed to the side effects of the dormant viruses that live in the nerve cells. The herpes simplex virus remains dormant in the body and is activated by certain triggers. Once the virus starts multiplying, it becomes difficult for the immune system to counter its growth and one of the effects is cold sores.
Those aged 40+ are more vulnerable to cold sores. The ability to naturally recover from them is substantially reduced as you grow older. It is possible that they will become a chronic problem for people aged 50+. Very old people will be even more vulnerable to the effects.
It would not be wrong to say that cold sores and aging go hand in hand. It is necessary to prevent cold sores, to manage the early symptoms and to maintain a diet, lifestyle and good overall health. This will ensure that you are well prepared to fight off HSV-1.
Cold sores have several triggers. A trigger is any internal or external factor that facilitates the activation of the virus inside the body. The most common triggers are a weakened immune system, physical and psychological stress, exposure to direct sunlight thus being exposed to ultraviolet rays, common cold, fatigue or exhaustion, weather extremes, pregnancy, poor nutrition and lifestyle choices, menstruation, physical injury especially in the facial region or on the lips, surgical operations, medications and dental procedures among others.
As you review the triggers, you will notice that most of those conditions become frequent or even chronic as you age. Bearing the brunt of the weather becomes a challenge once you reach 50+. A young adult may be able to recover from a cold much faster than a senior. The immune system will always weaken with age. It is tasked with fighting off viral infections.
Other than vaccines, there is nothing you can do to prevent a viral outbreak. Also, cold sores are contagious and given to you unwittingly by other people. Since the immune system weakens with age and doesn’t really get better as you age further, cold sores don’t just become more common but they become more chronic.
Ageing also causes a plethora of other health conditions that facilitate the outbreak of cold sores and their subsequent spread. Fatigue and exhaustion, physical and mental stress along with weakening health, are some unavoidable realities as one gets old. While those aged forty and below sixty may still be physically strong and mentally agile, they are still not at their physical best or the healthiest. Naturally, cold sores will get worse with age.
An outbreak of cold sores is usually quick. The sores could spread if the liquid discharge bursts through the crust and infects other parts of the lips or face. Cold sores should be taken care of, right from the stage when they are just blisters. Cold sores usually mellow down in a fortnight. That is for healthy adults. Even young adults can have cold sores for several weeks. For older people or those who are ageing, the scenario is more complicated.
Usually, healthy people will have cold sores once a year, perhaps. Many people don’t have cold sores for decades. However, most people have at least one breakout when they are young and young adults or people aged up to forty will have them at least once through adulthood.
Unhealthy people, or those who have a weak immune system, get exposed to the triggers more often will get them more frequently. There are innumerable cases where people get cold sores once every month. Sadly, the frequency of cold sores among seniors is worse.
Those who have a tendency to develop cold sores frequently should seek medical intervention. Those who have a history of developing frequent cold sores should also seek proactive medical intervention because their medical history makes them more vulnerable.
Cold sores get worse with age, there is no doubt about that. What you can do is eat a balanced diet, get more exercise, avoid the scorching sun, covering your mouth with a scarf when temperatures drop, and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Consider removing vices, such as smoking and drinking, and avoid contact with anyone who gets cold sores regularly, even if they are recovering.
You cannot be too careful, but it is difficult to be cautious all the time. As your cold sores are getting worse with age, there is no good alternative.