Aphthous ulcers, a type of mouth ulcer more commonly known as canker sores, are shallow, painful lesions that appear on the tongue and inside of the cheeks and lips, roof of the mouth and at the base of the gums. It is a common affliction experienced by many people at some point in their lives, most often by people in their early teens up until their forties, and, in particular, by women. The ulcers, which can appear in singular or group form, are white in appearance and often surrounded by a red "halo" and, depending on the location, can cause swelling in the lip. They aren't contagious, but in some cases there is a hereditary link.
Read on to find out how to treat mouth ulcers and canker sores.
The cause "Nobody really knows what causes them," says Dr. Alan Bobkin, a Toronto-based orthodontist. Simple canker sores most often develop where the inner-mouth tissue has already been damaged, he explains. Anything from biting the inside of your mouth, to irritation from braces or sometimes even overzealous brushing can bring them on. Frequently occurring lesions have also been attributed to factors such as improper nutrition, vitamin deficiencies, a compromised immune system and excessive stress levels. Since very little is proven with regards to the origin of cankers, there are no concrete answers in terms of treatment and prevention, however continued scientific research and time-tested remedies help provide insight on how best to deal with this uncomfortable condition.
How to treat mouth ulcers and canker sores Home remedies: There's a litany of do-it-yourself cures – ranging from baking soda or saltwater rinses to the application of a black tea bag directly on the sore – that have long been praised for their reliable success rate. Oils: Certain herbal oils, such as menthol and clove, can provide temporary relief by creating numbing sensation around the ulcer, and tea tree oil (a natural disinfectant) is often touted as an effective cure for cankers.
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More ways to treat mouth ulcers and canker sores Vitamins: A recent study has shown that a nightly dose of Vitamin B12 drastically reduces the frequency, duration and severity of sores in chronic canker sufferers over a period of several months, regardless of an individual test subject's initial B12 blood level.
Over-the-counter: A wide variety of products, including rinses and gels that can numb the pain and accelerate healing, are available at pharmacies and drugstores.
While there is no miracle cure, the aforementioned treatments can help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. "I usually tell my patients just to rinse with warm salt water. Nothing in particular can be prescribed to make them go away instantly," says Bobkin.
The average sore shouldn't last longer than fourteen days, with the worst of the pain subsiding after the first three or four. Take care to avoid irritants such as spicy and acidic foods, and be careful when brushing your teeth to avoid exacerbating the lesion. If the sore persists longer than two weeks or is more than a centimetre in diameter, seek medical attention.
Prevention Identify underlying conditions: With frequently recurring aphthous ulcers, the possibility of vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition or a compromised immune system should be discussed with your family doctor. "There are also certain systemic diseases like celiac or Crohn's that can cause canker sores, so if they're recurring you should rule them out, as well," Bobkin says. Avoid problem foods: Crunchy or hard food items like potato chips and popcorn can cut the inside of your mouth, which can induce canker sores. Citrus fruits, cinnamon, and coffee have also been identified as triggers. Pinpoint your sensitivities and drastically reduce or eliminate them completely from your diet. Reduce stress: If there's a direct correlation between high-stress periods in your life and the appearance of canker sores, explore relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or regular exercise as a preventative measure.
Switch to SLS-free toothpaste: Several studies suggest a link between recurrent canker sores and the use of toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – a commonly used detergent found in shampoos and soaps – which can increase the sensitivity of the tissue inside the mouth.
Want an in-demand job with a healthy future? Look no further than the skilled trades in Canada. "There is an incredible amount of opportunity in the trades industry in Canada right now," says Peter Harris, editor-in-chief of Workopolis, who reports on trends and changes in the Canadian job market.
"Trades workers need not be subject to the boom-and-bust cycles of provincial economies, because trades jobs are evergreen and also come with a great deal of freedom of mobility," he says. For example, in every city across the country, homeowners are always looking for reliable, affordable work on their homes: renovation, plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, says Harris.
Positions in the skilled trades offer another bonus: These roles are far more insulated from being sent offshore and to automation, says Harris. "[These are] the two biggest threats to many career paths," he says. Furthermore, Canada faces a shortage of one million tradespeople by 2020, as many people in that field will be retiring, he says. "The average age of welders is 57, and large numbers of trades workers across the board are also into their 50s."
Defining the "best" trade is highly subjective; it depends on where you live and what you consider most valuable: lots of demand, high pay, flexibility to set your own hours or whatever you feel is vital to a good job. That said, based on the job opportunities being posted online in the skilled trades, Harris says the most sought-after employees are in these five vocations.
1. Construction workers Whether it be working on new home construction, infrastructure (like roads) or commercial enterprises, construction workers are in high demand in Canada. Construction is considered a cornerstone of Canadian industry and it represents about seven percent of the Canadian workforce, according to the Canadian Construction Association. While positions may be plentiful, construction work is often seasonal and contract-based.
2. Vehicle repair In the past year, the number of job postings for the mechanic trades has spiked 94 percent over June 2013, says Harris. As anyone who has ever owned a car knows, auto mechanics tend to be perennially busy. According to Human Resources Skills Development Canada, this job is also called automotive service technician, helpful keywords if you're searching for post-secondary education programs, which tend to use this title instead of "car mechanics."
3. Maintenance worker Although maintenance work comprises a very broad array of specialties, these jobs are in high demand across the country, says Harris. Not just hands-on repair (although it can include these skills), maintenance work encompasses operations, planning and information management skills as well. These jobs are posted under a variety of names, such as maintenance technician, maintenance mechanic, maintenance specialist and, of course, maintenance worker.
4. Electricians Electricity is vital to life as we know it in Canada. Licensed electricians lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices and related equipment in buildings and other structures, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Electricians are highly sought-after in commercial, industrial and residential spheres. There are many positions open with electrical contractors, maintenance companies and industries, and there are also ample self-employment opportunities.
5. Heavy machinery operators (such as a backhoe, bulldozer) Wherever there's a freshly paved road or newly built construction, a heavy machinery operator isn't far behind. Operators work backhoes, bulldozers, graders and other heavy-duty construction vehicles. Another term that describes this trade is heavy equipment operator, which is the terminology post-secondary schools and colleges use to designate program offerings. Like construction work, these roles can be plentiful across the nation, but also tend to be seasonal.
With more than 400 years of history and a bustling contemporary cultural scene, Quebec City offers a trove of things to uncover—for repeat visitors newcomers alike.
History lesson:Auberge Saint-Antoine boasts gorgeously modern rooms in a historic wharf and cannon battery. Each room features a display of an artifact found on the site, such as 18th-century china plates or a charming pair of centuries-old dominoes. Some rooms include a private terrace, where you can take in the city sights (or a glass of wine) after a day of trekking through town.
Off the beaten path: Spend a night in a former nun's cell at Le Monastère des Augustines. This freshly restored site features wellness packages (think massages, yoga classes and meditation) and pared-back-but-comfy suites in a 377-year-old building.
Classic eats: Stop in at Le Chic Shack for an updated take on Quebec's most-beloved regional dish: poutine. With toppings such as smoked meat, mushrooms and even masala-curry sauce, this isn't your average potatoes and gravy.
Cocktails and bites: The Grande Allée is home to some of Quebec City's most luxurious estates—and L'Atelier, a swish restaurant that's a veritable hot spot come sundown. Don't miss the twist on surf and turf, lobster and beef tartare served with a side of deliciously crispy frites.
Local hero: Nordic ingredients drive the menu at Chez Boulay bistro boréal, where chefs Arnaud Marchand and Jean-Luc Boulay excel at inventive takes on culinary traditions that showcase regional flavours. A beet tarte tatin, for example, is drizzled with citrusy, semisweet birch syrup, whereas a velvety sea buckthorn meringue tart is a clever take on classic lemon meringue pie.
State of the art: The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec sits adjacent to the historic Plains of Abraham, but its new Pierre Lassonde Pavilion has a distinctly modern edge. Take in works by Québécois artists such as Riopelle and David Altmejd, and don't miss the impressive Inuit art collection.
Shop talk: Venture beyond the city's fortified walls to explore the charming St-Roch district, which is dotted with art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops (a latte at Saint-Henri micro-roaster is a must).
Old school: The Petit-Champlain neighbourhood is one of the oldest commercial districts in North America, so shops abound, but don't miss Musée de la civilisation for an afternoon immersion course in the Québécois and First Nations cultures.
Read on for expert advice on maximizing your enjoyment, staying safe and feeling empowered at every age.
NOT FEELING IT? Many women mistake a low sex drive for a clinical case of sexual dysfunction— but chances are, the cause is more than medical.
You aren't exactly sure what's up, but even though you love your partner, you just haven't felt like sex lately. You duck his touch, opting to watch Netflix instead. Maybe it's been months, and you're starting to wonder: Is there something wrong?
You can carry on with binge-watching The Crown, because, for most women, there's nothing medically amiss between the sheets. And, if it's any comfort, you're not the only one who's concerned about the possibility of sexual dysfunction. Teesha Morgan, a Vancouver sex therapist, says it's the question patients ask most. But, "almost 100 percent of the time, what they're experiencing is normal," she says. "There are so many things that can affect sexual desire: if you have little kids; if you're on antidepressants; if you take the birth control pill; if you're perimenopausal, postmenopausal or going through menopause...."
Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Halifax, says true sexual dysfunction persists for at least six months and is "associated with significant distress for the individual or couple, as judged by a clinician." So, while it may seem as though all of your friends are in the same sexless boat, just 12 to 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men have sexual dysfunction.
But if it's not a medical problem, what's behind your lack of drive? As Morgan says, there are tons of reasons. However, one major cause might be a truism we were hoping to write off: In women, sex drive tends to dip over time. According to a study published in Psychological Medicine last year, which looked at sexual function (desire, satisfaction, ability to achieve orgasm) in more than 2,000 women, those in long-term relationships tended to see a drop in desire. But that doesn't mean you should buy into the clichés about women hating sex; instead, take the opportunity to be more realistic about your expectations—it's OK to have less sex! And take heart: The study also found that the long-partnered women had an easier time achieving orgasm.
So, if you want to have sex like a champion, don't be afraid to try new things: Get it on anywhere but the bedroom or use a sex toy—and make your personal preferences clear. Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, suggests that you "liken having sex to going to the gym." Put it in your calendar if you have to! Because, just as with exercise, the more you go, the easier it will be to keep your commitment.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES How your smartphone could be messing with your sex life.
No one can be present in the moment if they're waiting to jump on that next ping, so, for God's sake, put down your phone. Experts recommend charging your devices as far from the bedroom as possible. If you really can't let go, at least turn down the volume. And consider trying "mindful intimacy." The wellness buzzword can easily be applied to sexual health; mindfulness is about focusing on the present, and mindful intimacy means being aware of what you are experiencing while you're with your partner. The idea is that couples who practise it can overcome the barriers they've built up and feel more connected to each other and their own individual sexuality. So sign up for a meditation class or use a mindfulness app like Headspace. (Ironic, we know—but apps really are easy and accessible ways to try mindfulness!)
LIBIDO BOOSTERS A look at how the newest sexual aids stack up.
Elvie: Remember those squeezing exercises you had to do after giving birth? Pelvic-floor muscles can make all the difference between a meh or mighty sex life, which is why Kegels are a must. But how do you know they're working? This pelvic-floor exerciser monitors your motion in real time thanks to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app.
Aphrodisiac marijuana: California-based medical marijuana purveyor Paradigm Cannabis Group markets a strain of weed called Sexxpot that promises to boost mood and libido. Researchers haven't been able to definitively establish a link between weed and libido, but there's anecdotal evidence that some people do benefit from partaking before sex. Trial run?
"Viagara for her": Big Pharma has been trying for years tcome up with a love pill for women, with little success. The most recent, Addyi, hit shelves in the U.S. in 2015, with a resounding thunk. A prescription pill aimed at premenopausal women, it delivers an average of just one-half of an extra satisfying sexual event per month—at a cost of US$900!
BACK IN THE SADDLE When you've been ill, sex is often the last item on your to-do list—but that doesn't mean it can't move up a notch or two.
Let's be honest: Sex isn't top of mind after you've been sick. Even sneezing and coughing from a cold or flu can drag you down, so it's no wonder something more serious can affect your sex life. But a thriving connection after a medical condition is possible.
First, though, it's important to know it's OK if you're not exactly feeling frisky. "There's psychology related to illness and sexuality," says Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician in Toronto. "Depression from an illness, sideeffects from medication and body-image concerns can all lead to a lack of interest in sex."
So don't feel pressured to immediately return to your pre-illness state of affairs. Maybe you've had a mastectomy—that can be a huge blow to your femininity. Or you've had a heart attack and are nervous that strenuous sexual activity will cause another one. You can still be intimate. Trade cuddling for intimate touching—get as naked as you both feel comfortable with, then engage in sex talk or remind each other of favourite moves. It will do more for your relationship than sitting side by side watching TV in parallel play.
And you don't have to worry about a subsequent heart attack after all. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 says sex doesn't trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of a repeat. In fact, researchers found it's actually considered "moderate physical activity…and is comparable to climbing two staircases or taking a brisk walk." So putting a little hanky-panky back into your repertoire can't hurt—and it might even help your recovery.
It's also worth noting that lots of women struggle after illness. "Energy levels post chemotherapy tend not to improve for several years. In some cases, women never return to their previous level of functioning," says Dr. Palmay. "So be gentle and patient with yourself." And when you do eventually feel ready, "experiment, be adventurous," she says. "Maybe sex will play a different role in your new life, and that's OK."
YES MEANS YES Consent isn't just a concept that affects carefree young people. "It's still a consideration in relationships, whether of a casual, short- or longterm nature," says Mary-Jean Malyszka, a registered provisional psychologist and clinical sex therapist in Calgary. But it can be sticky to address. Here are some tips for striking up the conversation.
With your partner: Consent is an ongoing conversation. "If you would like to change the type or degree of sexual activity, check in by asking, 'Is this OK?' or 'How would you feel about…?' " says Malyszka. Or remind your partner to check in with you. And, if you're planning to try something new, consider choosing a code word or action that means "stop immediately," she advises.
With your teens: Explain what consent is, keeping it simple but clear: You are allowed to stop at any point if it doesn't feel right, even if the other person really wants to continue. "You don't need to go into a big explanation. It's all about what you want and don't want for your body, and your partner has to respect that," Malyszka says.
With your parents: This can be an awkward conversation, but, considering the possibility of cognitive decline, an important one. Explain the importance of informed affirmative consent, which means each partner understands exactly what is going to happen and is enthusiastic about trying it.
SAFETY FIRST Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among older adults. Here's what you need to know.
Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It's time to revisit that conversation— with yourself.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the national rate of STI infection has been rising steadily since the late '90s, including among older adults. According to the Sexual Health at Midlife Study, a joint project by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the rates of chlamydia, for instance, among Canadians aged 40 to 59 increased by 153 percent between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Betito has noticed an increasing need to educate even elderly adults. "Seniors' residences are like college dorms. There's often one man for several women, and they don't use condoms because there's no risk of pregnancy," she says. Dr. Palmay has also seen more STIs in her perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal patients. "My senior patients go to Myrtle Beach, have fun in the sun and come back with syphilis, and they're nonchalant about it," she says.
Postmenopausal women are actually more vulnerable to STIs—the lining of the vagina becomes drier with age, which makes it "more likely to tear and become irritated during sex," says Dr. Palmay. "These tears could lead to more susceptibility to STIs."
Blame lack of condom use for the increased health risk—of the 77 percent of respondents in the Trojan/SIECCAN study who had intercourse in their last sexual encounter, only about 28 percent of women said their partner used a condom (see What's Behind the Rise, below, for more info).
"Youth today are taught 'no glove, no love,' but older women didn't grow up with that concept," says Dr. Betito, adding that people who are widowed or recently divorced "don't know how to negotiate condom use with a new partner." She advises women to take charge by carrying condoms and telling their partners they expect safe sex.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? Experts say the increasing incidence of STIs among the 40- to 59-year-old cohort can be traced back to three things.
Hookup-specific apps such as Tinder and Bumble: People looking for casual hookups use these apps to find potential sex partners with the swipe of a screen—no sexual history required.
Birth control use over condom use: For the 40-year-olds, birth control may help prevent pregnancy, but the pill doesn't ward off STIs. Condoms are close to 100 percent effective (though you can still contract HPV and herpes through oral sex).
Screening confusion: Not all STIs are diagnosed through blood or urine tests, and not all STIs are part of standard screening. For example, herpes and HPV require their own tests.
RUBBER CHECK If you thought we'd reached the apex of what a condom could be, think again. This is what rubbers could look like in the near future.
The number-one protector against STIs, HIV and, yes, babies, the latex condom has held steady for years. But once you've got thinner condoms, flavoured condoms and condoms bearing Sailor Moon designs, where do you go? To science, that's where. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing projects searching for a biodegradable condom that works just as well as the traditional sort, and a model that can also act as a drug-delivery system forSTI prevention. And, if those two aren't enough, behold the Rapidom. It's an applicator that will help a guy get the rubber out of the package and onto his penis in one swift move. Handy (and more likely to prevent user error)!
Add a touch of whimsy, colour or class to your winter wardrobe with a great manicure.
When it comes to winter, we usually forget to have fun with our beauty look. It's probably because we're more concerned about keeping warm with hefty sweaters and tuques. When it comes to beauty we're focused on keeping our lips soft, our skin hydrated and our beauty updates affordable. We tend to put fun lip colours and bold eyeliner on the back burner.
But break out of that winter beauty rut! There's an easy way to have a little fun—and you won't even need to pick up a new lipstick. Instead, make your next manicure (whether you're heading to a salon or DIY-ing your mani at home) one of these great picks. We looked at our favourite nail brands, artists and manicure spots to bring your the best winter manicure ideas.