Shingles is caused by virus and causes rashes on the body that are extremely painful. You can notice shingles symptoms on any part of your body but in most of the cases one gets affected on the right or left side of the body. Shingles appear as a single line of blisters that wrap around a particular side of the torso.
The virus that causes shingles symptoms is varicella-zoster and the same virus is responsible for chicken pox as well. People who have been attacked by chicken pox have high chances of getting affected by shingles also. After chicken pox, this virus remains inactive but stays near the spinal chord and brain. After a gap of a few years they might get reactivated and cause shingles.
However, shingles is not fatal. But the pain it causes requires immediate attention. Here are vaccines available that help to deal with the pain but it is important to start the treatment early. An early treatment also ensure that further complications are not caused by the disease.
There are various shingle symptoms and some of them are discussed below.
Tingling and numbness
One of the most common symptoms of shingles is having painful sensation on any particular part of your body. There is often a burning or tingling sensation on the skin and if the condition persists you should not ignore it. I would not be wise to avoid these painful rashes and sensations as they might point to an upcoming shingles attack.
Another one among the shingle symptoms is growing red colored rashes on your skin. Red raises can occur due to various reason but if they persist and cause extreme pain then they might point towards shingles. You should see a doctor in case they get extremely itchy and keep spreading.
Sensitivity of the skin
If you are feeling extreme sensitivity on your skin then you might get shingles. You should see a skin specialist with this extreme sensitivity of your skin persists.
If you notice that you are suddenly developing blisters on your skin you should get alarmed. Shingles symptoms include getting blisters that are filled with fluid and often burst open. Such blisters are also very painful and will cause you severe irritation on your skin. You should not appl anything on these blisters on your own and should rather consult a doctor.
Shingles also cause extreme itching on skin. We do itch our skin a few times a day and that is normal. However, if you feel that your itching is extreme ad is causing pain then you should be careful. Shingles causes extreme itching and often that hurt your skin. It is better to consult a doctor in this case as otherwise further complications might occur.
These are the most common shingles symptoms. However, there are certain other symptoms as well that are experienced by some people. These symptoms are discussed below.
A headache is generally does not arouse suspicion. But if you get a headache along with skin rashes and itching then it might point towards getting shingles. You should not wait and immediately consult a doctor for starting the treatment. It would help to prevent the disease from starting and spreading.
Sensitivity towards light
Some people get sensitive towards light when they are about to get shingles. Having fever and headache also makes one sensitive towards light. However, if this is coupled with persisting skin problems then it is better to get checked by a doctor.
Fatigue is caused by many causes. Overworking or having diabetes or lacking sleep might cause you fatigue. But if you see that suddenly you are feeling more fatigued than usual then you should be alarmed. Moreover, if your fatigue come along with skin rashes and fever then the condition might be serious and need immediate attention.
One of the earliest shingles symptoms is having extreme pain. It can be very intense for some people and some might have it in a milder level. The symptoms of shingles often get mistaken as problems of the kidney or heart or lunges. Such aa confusion occurs because of the different locations of the pain caused by the disease. There are even cases where people get shingles but do not experience having any rash or anything on their skin.
One of the main shingle causes is the virus varicella-zoster. However, there are still some confusion about the causes of shingles and the main details are discussed below.
The virus varicella-zoster is the primary cause of shingles. It is the same virus that makes chicken pox happen. This virus is a part of the virus group named herpes viruses. This group includes viruses that cause genital herpes and cold sores. Shingles was thus previously known as herpes zoster because of this virus. However, though belonging from the same group, the virus causing shingles and chicken pox are different from the ones that cause genital herpes and cold sores.
Due to the fact that chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, people who had chicken px are very likely to get shingles. After having chicken pox, this virus remains in an inactive state in the nervous system. After a few years or more than that the virus can get reactivated and make way towards your skin and cause shingles. However, this does not mean that anyone who had chicken pox will have shingles.
Having a weak immune system can also be one of the causes of shingles. This is why this disease is seen more in older adults. As you grow older, your immune system gets weaker and thus prone to getting shingles. However, young people who have lower immunity can also get affected by this disease.
Shingles risk factors
Though there is no hard and fist rule about shingles risk factors, there are some definite factors causing shingles. Chicken pox is one of the leading risk factors of shingles and the other factors are discussed below.
When you are above 50 years, you are more likely to get shingles. It is more common in people who are older than 50 years as the risk of this diseases enhances with age. The more you age, the more prone you are to shingles. There has been a study that shows, half of the people aged above 80 years get attacked by shingles.
Undertaking cancer treatment
If you have cancer and have to take chemotherapy or radiation then you might get affected by shingles. The treatment of cancer can lower your capability of fighting diseases and thus enhance the chance of shingles.
Having particular diseases
If you suffer from diseases that particularly affect your immune system then you might get shingles. Diseases like cancer and HIV affects our immunity and works passively towards causing shingles.
Using certain medicines
Undertaking drugs that prevent the rejection of organs that have been transplanted can also increase your chances of getting shingles. Continuous use of prednisone like steroids can cause this disease.
There are various complications related to shingles. Some of them are discussed below.
Loss of vision
If you get affected by shingles in your eye area the n it might lead towards eye infections and affect your vision. In many cases, where treatment has not been done in time, people have lost their eyesight due to the complications caused by shingles.
In some people. Shingles leaves it marks in the form of pain even after the visible signs have been cured. This particular condition is called postherpetic neuralgia. It occurs when the damaged fibers of the nerve send messages of pain from the skin to brain. Due to the exaggeration and confusion created by these messages, one experiences immense pain.
Infections on the skin
Another complication related to shingles is skin problems. If the blisters that shingles created are not treated in a proper way, it often leaves marks. It might lead to further problems of the skin and initiate a new bout of irritation and rashes.
Encephalitis of brain inflammation can also be caused by shingles as it often affects those nerves. One can also suffer from hearing problems and facial paralysis, depending on the types of nerves that are damaged by shingles.
Prevention of shingles
There are mainly wo vaccines that help with the prevention of shingles. These are the chicken pox vaccine and the shingles vaccine. Details about these two vaccines are mentioned below.
People can opt for Shingrix or Zostavax as shingles vaccines. The former has been approved by the FDA and is an alternative vaccine to the later. This vaccine offers a protective shield against the virus causing shingles for about five years/ It is given to a person in two doses and is a non-living vaccine.
Zostavax git approved by FDA before Shingrix and offers the same kind of protection for the same period of time. However, it is a live vaccine and single dose is given to people. Usually, it is the upper arm where it gets injected.
Both of these vaccines can cause the side effects of pain and redness, itching, swelling at the point of the injection along with headache.
Chicken pox vaccine
Given the fact that chicken pox often causes shingles, it is now almost a routine to get the chicken pox vaccine. It is generally given to children to offer them immunity against this particular disease. Adults who have never been affected by chicken pox are also often recommended to take this vaccine to remain safe.
However, this vaccine does not assure that you will not get affected by shingles or chicken pox. This only offers you a protection that lessens the chance of getting affected.
Time to see a doctor
You should visit a doctor in case any of the above-mentioned symptoms lasts for too long. Special care needs to be taken when:
Near eye infection
You should not waste any time and see a doctor when you have git a nasty rash near you eye. High chances are that it is shingles and even if it is something else it needs to get diagnosed. If you do not give it immediate attention, you might even lose your vision.
If you have a hereditary problem of weak immunity system then also you should give special attention to the shingles symptoms. Weaker immunity makes you vulnerable to this disease and thus you need to act on an emergency basis.
You should also be especially careful if you are aged 60 years or above that. Shingles is a disease seen mainly in older adults and thus your age should prompt you to see a doctor urgently.
Rapid spreading of rash
If you notice that the red colored rash is spreading rapidly and is cause immense pain the also you should no waste any time and see a doctor. Fast spreading rash and pain are both alarming signs of shingles that need immediate attention.
A person affected by shingles can spread the disease to anyone who doesn’t have immunity against chicken pox. This generally happens when there is a direct contact with the sores and blisters. However, infected by a shingles affected person generally causes chicken pox and not shingles.
These are the basic things to know about shingles symptoms and related issues. Though it will not cost you your life, shingles can be extremely painful and long if not attended. You should be especially careful if you have been a victim of chicken pox. In that case you should not ignore even a single rash and rush to the doctor on their onset.
Otherwise, you can give a day to two o observe how the rashes are progressing and then visit the doctor. In no cases the sudden outbreak of rashes along with fever and headache should be ignored. Otherwise there can be long term complications.