Shingles is a common infection that’s caused by a virus known as varicella-zoster. This is the same virus that’s responsible for chicken pox in children. Once your chicken pox infection has been properly treated, the virus can continue to live in your nervous system for years before it eventually reactivates in the form of shingles.
Shingles is sometimes referred to as herpes zoster in some medical sectors.
This form of infection is often identified with the presence of a painful skin rash that appears on one side of the body, usually around the face, neck or torso. Interestingly, the blisters that occur with shingles are more likely to happen on just one side of the body, rather than spreading all the way across your body like some other infections.
Most of the time, shingles can clear up naturally by themselves, typically within two or three weeks from the start of the infection. Like chickenpox, it’s rare for shingles to happen more than once in the same person, but this condition is incredibly common. Some experts estimate that one in every three people will experience shingles in the United States at least once during their lifetime. Here, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about shingles signs, symptoms and treatments.
The Symptoms in Shingles Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment:
The first thing you should understand about shingles signs, symptoms and treatments is how you can spot the emerging signs of the infection. For most people, shingles starts with an unusual degree of pain and burning sensation on one side of the body. Eventually, the pain will emerge into small patches of blisters, or a rash that persists across a single side of the body.
The characteristics of the shingles rash often include fluid-filled blisters that are prone to breakage, and red patches. The rash will often wrap around the torso starting from the spine, and there may also be a rash present around the ears and face too. Some people who are diagnosed with shingles experience symptoms that go beyond the initial rash. For example, they might have a fever, headache, chills, fatigue, or problems with muscle weakness.
If your shingles infection becomes particularly severe, you might start to notice some of the more rare complications of shingles. For instance, some patients experience a pain that involves the eye, which needs to be managed as quickly as possible to avoid any potential for damage to the eye or vision. There’s also a risk of loss of hearing, or intense pain in the ear if the blisters spread around the face. Loss of taste in your tongue can also be a sign that you’re suffering from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
If you do have shingles, then you might end up getting bacterial infections in some of your blisters. Keep an eye out for these if your skin becomes red or swollen, or starts to feel warm to the touch.
The Problems with Shingles in Older Adults:
Shingles can occur in people of any age or gender, but it’s most common in older adults, often between the ages of 60 and 80 years old. According to health experts, one of three people will get shingles in their lifetime, and around half of them will be over the age of 60. One of the reasons that seniors are more likely to suffer from shingles than younger people, is the fact that their immune systems are weaker.
If you have a poor immune system and you’re not over the age of 60, then this could increase your risk of getting shingles. Importantly, people who do have shingles over the age of 60 are generally more likely to experience complicated side effects than other members of the general population. These people are also more susceptible to issues involving brain inflammation and pneumonia, so it’s important to see a doctor as early as possible to get treatment if you’re over the age of 60.
Treating and Preventing Shingles:
If you’re interested in learning about shingles signs, symptoms, and treatments, it’s important to note that while there’s no cure for shingles. You can access medication which might reduce the length of the infection, and minimize the symptoms. Forms of home treatment can also be useful for easing your symptoms. For instance, doctors often recommend that people with shingles get plenty of rest and apply cold compresses to the rash to reduce the itching and pain.
For most people who want to know about shingles signs, symptoms and treatments, it’s reassuring to learn that the condition typically clears itself up with a few weeks, and it generally only happens once. However, if you notice that your problems haven’t gone down after about ten days, you should probably think about speaking to your doctor.
Ideally, the best way to reduce your risk of having to deal with shingles, is to simply prevent the infection from happening in the first place. While there’s no cure, there are vaccines that can reduce your risk of developing severe shingles, or experiencing complications due to shingles. Most children should receive at least two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, and adults who have never had chicken pox should get this vaccine too.
Taking the vaccine won’t mean that you’re not going to get chicken pox, but it does reduce your chances. Additionally, adults who are older than 60 should also get the same shingles vaccine to avoid the complications often associated with shingles. While shingles are generally painful and uncomfortable in most people, it’s important to remember that complications with this infection can be serious if you don’t manage the condition properly.
People who have shingles should monitor their symptoms carefully, as complications can include a range of common problems, including pneumonia, and even spinal cord or brain inflammation in some cases.
Speak to your doctor the moment you think you have shingles to make sure that you’re getting the right treatment for your condition, and keep in mind that shingles is contagious, so it’s important to make sure that you keep your rash covered when possible to avoid passing on the infection on to your friends and family.