They’re unpleasant and persistent, but cold sores could cause bigger problems than an uncomfortable blister on your lip.

According to a recent study published in the journal Neurology, viral and bacterial infections (including the one that causes cold sores) can also cause cognitive problems.

Researchers found that when people had higher levels of infection in their blood from herpes simplex type 1 and other viruses, they were more likely to experience cognitive and memory issues.

If you get cold sores, don’t resign yourself to a future of forgetfulness just yet.


“While this association needs to be further studied, the results could lead to ways to identify people at risk of cognitive impairment and eventually lower that risk,” study author Mira Katan said in a press release.

In fact, researchers found that the link between viral infections and cognitive problems was most obvious in those who didn’t exercise.

So, there you have it: If you get cold sores, exercise is an effective way to help prevent the cognitive problems they may cause. Of course—if you don’t have the herpes simplex (or any other) virus, exercise is still the best way to help prevent cognitive decline.

Do you get cold sores? If so, will you exercise more after reading this study?

-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor


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