What Causes the Shingles Virus and What You Should Know About It
The shingles virus can affect people of all ages. Right now, approximately half of all shingles cases are active in people over the age of 60. This means that over half of cases involve people younger than 60. There are some factors that can put you at greater risk of contracting the shingles virus. So, what can you do to minimize the risk of catching the shingles virus and what should you know?
What is Shingles?
The shingles virus is an infection that causes a painful rash on the skin. Although this rash can occur anywhere on the body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the side of the torso. Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have had chickenpox, this virus lives inside you but remains inactive in nerve tissues near the spinal cord and the brain. After years of being inactive, the virus can reactivate and become shingles.
Symptoms of Shingles
The shingles virus usually only affects a small section of the body. The symptoms and signs may include pain, burning, numbness, and tingling. The area may also be sensitive to the touch and itchy. A red rash may begin to develop after a few days of intense pain with fluid-filled blisters appearing. These blisters tend to break open and may dry. Some people may also experience fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and fatigue. Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles but may be mistaken for problems affecting the heart, lungs, or kidneys.
Complications of Shingles
There are some complications from shingles. One of the biggest complications is postherpetic neuralgia. This condition is when the pain of shingles continues after the blisters have cleared. It occurs when damaged nerve fibers send confused and exaggerated messages of pain from the skin to the brain. Other complications that can occur include vision loss, if the rashes are around or in your eye; neurological problems, including facial paralysis, hearing, balance problems, and inflammation of the brain; and skin infections.
There are two different vaccines that can be used to help prevent shingles: the chickenpox vaccine and the shingles vaccine. The chickenpox vaccine, known as varicella, has become one of the typical childhood immunizations. This vaccine is also recommended for adults who have never had the virus. Although there is no guarantee that you won’t get either chickenpox or shingles, it can reduce the risk of complications and reduce the severity of the disease. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the varicella-zoster vaccine to help prevent the shingles virus. It will likely reduce the course and severity of the disease and reduce the risk of postherpetic neuralgia. The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults age 60 and older although the vaccine has been approved by people who are younger than 50. The shingles virus can be uncomfortable and cause many complications. But with the right treatments and Shakthi Health & Wellness Center, you will be able to continue to live your life normally.
For more information on overcoming your shingle symptoms, call Shakthi Health & Wellness Center today!