Cold sores linked to memory problems
Cold sores are not only irritating, but, according to new research published in the journal Neurology, the virus that causes them and other similar viruses are associated with memory problems in older adults.
The study looked at 1,625 adults around age 70 living in Manhattan. Each participant was tested for herpes simplex 1 (HSV1) – the virus that causes cold sores, and herpes simplex 2 (HSV2) – the virus that causes genital herpes infections, as well as other viruses. They also tested the participants’ cognitive function, including memory and language skills.
The participants with a higher infection burden were found to be about 25 percent more likely to score below average on the cognitive test than people without the infections. The link was strongest among women, those of lower socioeconomic status and those who lived a sedentary lifestyle.
Previous studies have linked herpes infections to Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers noted that this particular study points only to a correlation between herpes infections and memory problems. The infections do not necessarily cause the memory problems.