Cold sores are painful, but contrary to what most people may think, their effects aren't always just skin-deep. A recent study on NBCNews.com says there may be a deeper link between these painful blisters and infections as well as memory loss.

Researchers from the Miller School of Medicine and the University of Miami in the US tested the cognitive skills of 1,625 people who were roughly 69 years old. Blood samples were taken from the volunteers, which were tested for five low-grade infections, including "three viruses (herpes simplex type 1, which is oral; herpes simplex type 2, which is genital; and cytomegalovirus), chlamydia pneumoniae (a common respiratory infection), and Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria found in the stomach)."

The results revealed that those who had higher infection levels were 25 percent more likely to have lower scores in thinking and memory exams. However, the kind of infections mentioned did not affect memory loss over time.

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Although more research is still needed to strengthen this link, this may give scientists more ways on how to possibly treat dementia and Alzheimer's disease. What people, especially older adults, can do is to live and eat healthy in order to keep the immune system strong. Being aware and taking care of your body can help you fight diseases later on.

(Photo by Horia Varlan via Flickr Creative Commons)

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