Today on Zee Companion it was an open health day and even though it was an open conversation I wanted to talk about “ulcers”. We have all heard of bed sores, peptic ulcers, but perhaps the most common form of ulcer is the mouth. Mouth ulcers are painful sores that appear inside the mouth. They are usually red or yellow. They are different from cold sores, which appear on the outer lips and are caused by a virus. Usually a single mouth ulcer is due to damage caused by biting the cheek or tongue, or by sharp teeth, brushing or poorly fitting dentures. These ulcers are called ‘traumatic’ ulcers. If you have a number of mouth ulcers, and they keep coming back, this is called ‘recurrent aphthous stomatitis’.

Infections can cause mouth ulcers. Herpes simplex often causes mouth ulcers in children and some adults. Other less common viral and bacterial infections may cause mouth ulcers, but this is rare. Mouth ulcers can be caused by anaemia and occasionally by other blood disorders, and some skin or gastrointestinal diseases. Sometimes the mouth ulcers are the only sign of an underlying disease

Cancer of the mouth can first appear as a mouth ulcer. The ulcers caused by mouth cancer are usually single and last a long time without any obvious nearby cause (for example a sharp tooth). Any ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks should be looked at by your dentist. Ulcers caused by cancer usually appear on or under the tongue, but may occasionally appear somewhere else in the mouth. Cancer of the mouth is usually linked to heavy smoking and drinking. Doing both together greatly increases the risk of cancer.

Today I was joined by Dr Kitur Patel who had trained at Kings College London and graduated with MBBS in 2001. Since then he has trained as a GP and qualified with MRCGP in 2007. He is currently practising as a GP in Ickenham looking after almost 2500 patients. Though Dr Patel enjoys the wide diversity and holistic care that general practice offers, he has an interest in child health, dementia, and end of life care.

Dr Patel said that people who suffered from ulcers should avoid acidic food and their diet.He warned of the dangers of alcohol and smoking making the problem worse.

He highlighted the need for people with arthritis to keep as active as they could and we even had one caller who had been diagnosed with cancer. Dr Patel mentioned the need to never waste any time if a person receives such diagnosis and undergo the recommended treatment for an effective form of treatment.