Kissing is a part of most romantic relationships, no matter how serious they might be. You probably have never given much thought to anything regarding kissing beyond how it makes you feel or when you should go in for that first kiss, but there are actually other things you might want to know about as well. There are some shocking health conditions you can actually get from kissing that, though the chance of you getting them from a quick make-out sesh probably is low, you still should at least be aware of.
Because you're actually, you know, swapping spit (and bacteria) when you're kissing, it's not completely out of the question that you could end up developing a health condition after the fact, but it's probably not something that you should let keep you from ever kissing anybody ever again. The conditions and diseases range from things that are generally considered relatively minor, like a cold or even strep throat, but also could be things that have much more serious — and in some cases longer-lasting — impacts. Though a little bit gross to think about — and definitely not sexy — kissing can potentially make you sick or even give you cavities, so knowing what you're up against is a good first step to keeping yourself as healthy as you can.
Herpes is incurable and very contagious, which can make people nervous, but it, like other conditions, definitely shouldn't keep you from kissing people entirely. One type of the virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, can cause cold sores and is the kind that's primarily transferred from mouth-to-mouth contact, so that's what you could potentially get from kissing someone who's been infected. In an interview with Self, Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., an OB-GYN, said that just because the other person doesn't have cold sores right then doesn't mean that they're not contagious. They could be shedding the virus, meaning that you could potentially still be infected, even if it doesn't look like it.
While it's highly unlikely that you or your partner would get a cavity (or more than one) because of bacteria spread while kissing, it is, in fact, possible. Medical Daily reported that although it's more common for parents and caregivers to spread cavity-causing bacteria to babies and young children, adults can also spread the bacteria by kissing, sharing toothbrushes, or sharing utensils, especially if one or the other has a lowered immune system.
Colds, the flu, mumps, and German measles could all potentially be spread through kissing, CNN reported, but it's more likely that you'd catch it from being around one another or them otherwise spreading germs through sneezing, coughing, or touching the other person. So while you could end up getting each other sick after kissing, chances are it wasn't the kissing itself that did it, but all the time you spent near them beforehand.
OK, so I know that this probably isn't shocking, but it felt wrong to leave the so-called "kissing disease" out of the discussion entirely. Mononucleosis (or mono) is the name of a variety of symptoms that can be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, as Healthline noted. Because it does, in fact, spread through saliva, it'll probably never shake its nickname. Though you probably knew someone who had it in high school, you can get mono at any time, so you should still watch for symptoms, like extreme fatigue.
In an interview for the previously-mentioned article from Self, Dr. Chris Carpenter, M.D., an infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, said that bacterial meningitis can be spread through being in close contact with someone with the condition and requires treatment with antibiotics if you're exposed because it can often cause you to actually develop meningitis. Because if you're kissing, you're in close contact with your partner, if they have bacterial meningitis, you could end up getting it as well.
MRSA is more well-known for being something that you might catch at the gym or during a stay in the hospital, but the infection can also spread through kissing, as noted in a post on the Cleveland Clinic website. Staph infections — like MRSA — can be quite serious, so it's important to see your doctor if you show symptoms.
Strep throat is only one of many potential diseases that Streptococcus can cause, as Very Well noted. The site also noted that strep throat can be spread through kissing because the bacteria sticks to surfaces within your mouth, which can then transfer to the other person's mouth and cause an infection. Though strep throat can be treated with antibiotics, it's not exactly the most pleasant set of symptoms to experience.
In an interview with Self for the aforementioned article, Dr. Antonio Pizarro, M.D., an OB-GYN, said that syphilis can cause someone to develop sores inside their mouth. That makes it potentially dangerous when it comes to kissing. Like many of the other conditions on this list, it's not likely that you'd contract syphilis by kissing someone, but if they have open sores in their mouth, it's theoretically a possibility.
In the previously-mentioned article, CNN reported that cytomegalovirus, which is a "member of the herpes family," can also be spread from kissing someone who's been infected with it. Though a lot of people have antibodies to it from earlier infections that they didn't even know they had, not everyone does, and if you contract it, it can result in some pretty serious symptoms.
Perhaps not that surprisingly, you could also end up sharing the bacteria that can cause gingivitis when you kiss. Go Ask Alice, a health Q & A column from Columbia University, noted that microbiota on the tongue and in the saliva, as well as bacteria in the saliva that are shared when kissing can potentially lead to gum disease. Brushing and flossing — as well as regular dental cleanings — are important in the effort to keep your gums, teeth, and mouth healthy.
Though rare, it is possible to get hepatitis B from kissing. In the previously-mentioned article, Very Well noted that the hepatitis B virus is blood-borne and, like HIV, typically transmitted through sexual contact, but that there are some documented cases where hepatitis B was transmitted through saliva.
Ultimately, it's extremely unlike that you'd end up with this or any other major condition from kissing, but knowing the risks is certainly important.
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