We cherish the ones we love, and their kisses can make our day. Whether it’s a quick peck on the lips or a PG-13 kiss between lovers, a kiss can make you feel like a million bucks. It can also transmit 80 million bacteria. If you’re wondering how you got sick, kissing might be the reason. The following are 10 illnesses you can get just by kissing someone.
10. Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr Virus)
There’s a reason why mononucleosis is known as the “kissing disease”. It’s spread through saliva, sharing drinks, eating utensils, and kissing. Mononucleosis is most common in people ages 15 to 30 years old, the prime age of socializing and dating.
Mononucleosis lasts for one to two months and can cause flu-like symptoms like severe fatigue, intense sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Although over-the-counter medication can help alleviate the symptoms, there is no cure. The disease must run through its course, with bed rest and fluids for the person infected.
A person can spread the flu before symptoms begin to appear. Afterward, they can continue to infect others until seven days after symptoms start. The flu causes intense fatigue, coughing, fever, and body aches, usually making a person so tired they have to stay in bed. Although the flu lasts for a week or two, it’s never a pleasant experience. It’s best to avoid getting the flu altogether, so make sure to receive a yearly flu vaccine instead.
8. Herpes Simplex Type 1
The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the culprit for most cold sores (also known as fever blisters). Genital herpes, typically caused by the lesser common herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), can also cause cold sores. HSV-1 infects most people as children and adolescents. Once infected, the virus remains in the system for a lifetime. The sores can pop up whenever the body is under stress or when the immune system is low. Unfortunately, however, a person can be infectious at any time, with or without the presence of sores.
Though most commonly transmitted during sex, syphilis can also spread through kissing. Syphilis can cause round sores within the mouth, which can transmit the virus. Fortunately, unlike herpes, syphilis can be treated through antibiotics and doesn’t have to be a lifelong disease.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord and can spread through viral and bacterial infections. Of the two, viral meningitis is less severe and typically goes away without the need for medications or medical follow-up. On the other hand, bacterial meningitis may cause a fever, stiff neck, headache, and nausea. In rare cases, bacterial meningitis may require hospitalization.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can affect all people, but those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible. The virus spreads through bodily fluids, like saliva, blood, and urine. Though the virus can stay in the body for a long time without any symptoms, a person can become symptomatic when they’re under stress or their immune system becomes weak. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, and tiredness. Severe cases of CMV may result in pneumonia and encephalitis, though these cases are rare.
Warts from the human papillomavirus (HPV) on the mouth are relatively rare. At the same time, it is possible to transmit the virus if there is an open sore on the mouth, but you’d have to spend a lot of time kissing.
Many coronaviruses, from the mild common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and even SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), can be transmitted through a kiss. These viruses are mostly respiratory and can quickly spread from person to person. Because these viruses are present in respiratory droplets and saliva, coronaviruses transmit quickly through kissing.Related: A Doctor Explains How to Never Catch COVID-19
It’s not fun to think about, but stomach viruses can spread through kissing. Norovirus, which causes gastroenteritis, is present in saliva. Furthermore, if a person recently vomited, the virus may still be in their mouth and ready to spread to the next person they kiss.
1. Oral Bacteria Leading to Gum Disease
Technically, gum disease doesn’t spread from person to person. The bacteria that can cause gum disease is what gets transmitted through kissing. If a person doesn’t maintain good oral hygiene, the bacteria can multiply and result in gum disease.
Wait! Don’t Swear Off Kissing Just Yet!
Kissing is a universal sign of affection and love. Additionally, kissing has mental and physical health benefits, like boosting the immune system, reducing tension, and producing feelings of bonding and well-being. Most kissing won’t result in any of the above diseases, and the chances of any of them occurring are rare. At the same time, there are precautions you should take if you want to share a smooch.
- Avoid kissing others if you’re feeling sick or have a cold sore, wart, or wound in or around the mouth. Try not to kiss others who have those symptoms.
- Maintain good oral health by brushing and flossing regularly.