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Do you love a French kiss? These are the health risks

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Old couple kissing

When was the last time you had a passionate kiss that just blew your mind away? In the heat of the moment, you were probably so much into the kiss that nothing else seemed to even matter.

That’s because when you share an incredible kiss with someone, there are certain feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, being released that will make you feel on top of the world and wanting to go back for more!

During that euphoric state, I doubt you are thinking of any of the potential communicable diseases that may be transmitted while kissing. It’s likely the last thing on your mind, but it is absolutely imperative to be aware of how kissing may potentially spur on various health problems. That kiss which is seemingly just a blissful moment of intimacy, may actually lead you towards the road of infection.

Researchers from the Netherlands in a 2014 study estimated that a French kiss lasting just ten seconds can facilitate the transfer of up to 80 million bacteria. Though most of those bacteria aren’t pathogenic, there are still certain microorganisms that may cause problems while kissing and shouldn’t be overlooked. So, as exhilarating as a kiss with the right person may be, you should always keep in mind some of the serious infections that may be potentially passed along when you kiss someone.

Cavities and Periodontal Disease
The next time you go for an intimate kiss with that special someone, you may want to consider how well they tend to their oral hygiene. If your partner does not take care of his or her oral health and has an abundance of cavities, the bacteria causing those dental caries can potentially be transferred to you during a kiss. Streptococcus mutans is an example of a known cavity causing bacteria which can be spread by deep kissing. Make sure you and your significant other always adhere to healthy oral hygiene practices to help avoid cavities and the development gum disease. 

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV 1):
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is the virus responsible for the unsightly blistering on the lips and around the mouth when one has an active oral herpes infection. These lesions are commonly called cold sores or fever blisters, and not everyone understands that cold sores and fever blisters are synonymous with oral herpes. So, if your significant other tries to convince you that the lesions on his or her lips are harmless “cold sores”, do realize those active lesions are a highly contagious HSV1 infection that may be transmitted to you when you kiss.

Many people who are infected with oral herpes aren’t even aware that they have the infection, and may unknowingly pass it on to a partner while kissing. Unfortunately, no cure exists for the condition, but there are antiviral medications available which can help alleviate symptoms. If you want to prevent the spread of infection, you should definitely abstain from kissing, or other sexual contact, if you or your partner have visible sores.

Meningitis
Meningitis is a serious disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. There were unfortunately over 1000 deaths in Nigeria during the most recent meningitis outbreak last year. A means by which the illness can be passed along to someone else is via exchange of saliva while kissing. Prevention is key when we talk about such disease outbreaks. You should therefore avoid kissing anyone who may potentially be infected with the illness. Remember, the classic symptoms of the condition include headache, stiffness of the neck, fever, and sensitivity to light. Seek immediate medical attention if you think you may be infected.

Infectious Mononucleosis
Mononucleosis is a viral infection typically affecting young adults and also referred to as “the kissing disease”. It is caused by EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus), which thrives in fluid such as saliva and may be spread easily from an infected person’s saliva when kissing. It’s a highly contagious condition and those infected may exhibit symptoms of generalized malaise, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. Symptoms are usually self-limiting and get better with time, but complications of a severe infection may include swelling and even rupture of the spleen.

So, before you pucker up again and go in for that kiss, make sure you and your partner are in good health. If you are ever in doubt about your health status or really feel ill and under the weather, you should get checked out by your doctor and refrain from kissing to avoid the potential spread of infection. Kissing can be a wonderful way to connect intimately with someone, but it should not be done at the expense of your health.


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