Cold sores linked to cognitive decline

The virus causing your cold sore may put you at risk for something more insidious: Lower cognitive abilities.

In a study of 1,625 people, researchers at Columbia University measured specific antibodies to common infectious agents in each person’s blood, and using this information, created an “infectious burden index.” Participants higher on the infectious burden index were more likely to have worse cognition, or cognitive abilities.

The study, published Monday in the journal Neurology, further suggests a link between cognitive decline and herpesviridae viral infections in particular, which previous studies have also linked to Alzheimer’s disease and risk of stroke, an accompanying editorial notes. Herpesviridae is a family of viruses including HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus-1, which causes cold sores and can cause genital herpes, and HSV-2, which commonly causes genital herpes.

For the study, researchers tracked participants for eight years, giving them tests to measure cognition each year, but found no link between decline in abilities and viral infections over that period. The associated decline occurred before the study even began; the participants infectious burden index score did not make that person more or less likely to experience cognitive decline over the course of the study.

Full story of cold sores at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

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