Cold Sores the Strange Connection to Memory Loss

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Brain Function | Monday, April 01, 2013 - 10:34 AM

cold sores and memory lossCold sores are unsightly, and embarrassing things to have, especially given the fact they tend to be found front and center, and visible to everyone in raw red form, on your face. But there is other more serious reasons why you might really want to pay attention to the signal the mirror is giving you. A brand new study has linked not only infection to memory loss, but specifically, the herpes virus, the one that causes cold sores.

Other Studies on Infections Were Gently Tied to Memory Loss

This certainly isn’t the first study on the subject. There has been research done in the past that linked the sometimes unsightly herpes virus/infection with a potentially heightened risk for Alzheimer’s disease. What makes this newer study rather interesting is the idea that there are more specific factors associated with the link between cold sores and the risk for impaired cognitive function, which includes loss of memory.

What the Infection/Cold Sore Virus Entailed

The researchers of the study delved in over 1600 adults in their later years, in and around 70 years old  and blood tests were done looking for an idea of prior infections of blood for evidence of previous herpes simplex type 2 (also commonly known as a genital herpes infection), chlamydia pneumonia and the most common type of herpes virus (called cytomegalovirus). What researchers noticed was shocking. They saw that these specific infections put people in the direct line of fire for a heightened risk of stroke.

What a Heightened Infection Risk Means for Memory Loss

The researchers looking at the information also provided a test to the elderly participants, which took into account the “cognitive abilities” which naturally included, attention to detail, memory capabilities and general skills with language.

The results of this research found that of the elderly participants of the study, they noticed that the higher the chance of infection, there was a considerably higher risk they would perform much below average on the tests which included the test for memory loss and cognitive capability.

RELATED READING: How Infection Can Lead to Cancer

These adults had a 25% higher chance of symptoms that included memory loss and were the most noticeable within the female participants of the research study with low levels of physical exercise.

What Happens to the Body to Make Infections and Memory Loss Connect?

The science is complex, but if you break it down into layman’s terms, researchers say that what happens within the body is actually somewhat simple. When the body has an infection take over, it can increase levels of general inflammation within the body, which is what aids in the decline of cognitive ability, and can lead to memory loss. Further studies are in the works to be conducted, as experts say this could be considered good news, and at least realizing the link between memory loss and cold sores can mean there is one part of cognitive decline that is potentially treatable, which could lower the risk across the board.

Related Reading: What a cold sore says about your memory

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