Shingles is a disease that’s common in older adults and is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes the chicken pox in younger children.
Shingles disease is often known as Zoster or Herpes zoster. It’s a condition in which painful blisters develop and show up on the skin. The root cause is the same virus that results in chicken pox. This virus is the “varicella zoster virus” or VZV. If you’ve had chicken pox as a child, then you are at a higher risk for developing shingles later in life.
Basically, when a person contracts the chicken pox, a small amount of the VZ virus will remain in their body. Then, once the patient’s immune system is weakened either by aging, stress or an immune system deficiency, the disease may return and attack the nervous system.
To learn more about Shingles disease, including information on its symptoms and how to prevent its spread, keep reading.
Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles typically begins with a low grade fever that can last for up to six days. An individual will also experience ongoing fatigue, lethargy, possible headaches, occasional digestive problems, aches, pains and even chills. And though, eventually the person will develop a rash, it is at this stage that the patient or a doctor may misdiagnose the disease as the flu.
Eventually, the patient will develop small and painful blisters on the skin. These will usually extend from the spine to the chest and are the most common and visible symptom of the malaise.
Why It’s Important to Treat Shingles
Shingles and the VZV can directly affect the nervous system leading to issues and other medical problems throughout the body. It’s critical to seek treatment swiftly before the disease progresses.
People at Risk for Developing Shingles
The people who have the highest risk levels for developing Shingles are those who had chicken pox as children. Primarily, the disease affects those over the age of 50 and is especially prevalent in persons suffering from any other condition that damages the immune system (like AIDS or cancer). Also, it can impact anyone taking immunosuppressive drugs.
What to Do if You Have Shingles
Shingles are often contagious, so precautions should be taken to protect family members and others in close contact with the patient. When sores or blisters are present, they should be covered at all times, and bedding and clothing should be washed separately.
To alleviate some of the pain and discomfort common to patients suffering from Shingles disease, they should keep affected areas out of the sun and avoid using harsh chemicals like certain soaps or creams on blisters or sores. Patients should also refrain from scratching and irritating any rashes or sores.