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What You Should Ask About Shingles Disease

Jan 4, 2008
There are about a million people in America that suffer from shingles disease every year. If you don't know what shingles is, then it's time to get informed. You or a loved one could be at risk of suffering from shingles disease.

What causes shingles?

The disease is most often associated with the chicken pox. This is because the virus varicella zoster which causes chicken pox is also the cause of shingles disease. In addition, a person can only suffer from shingles if he has had chicken pox in the past. This is because the chicken pox virus lies dormant after patient recuperation and can recur at some point in the person's life as shingles.

Is it the same as herpes?

Another name for shingles is herpes zoster. Some other skin diseases may also carry the name herpes. Shingles disease however and some other skin diseases carrying the name herpes is not the same as genital herpes which is a sexually transmitted disease.

Who is at risk of having shingles?

Anyone who has had chicken pox may get shingles. Most of the time though children and young adults who still have strong immune systems may still be able to avoid the illness. Those who are at high risk of developing shingles disease are those with weakened immune systems. These include the elderly and those who are extremely stressed out or fatigued. Of course, people who are severely sick with cancer, AIDS, leukemia and other illnesses also have a higher risk of developing shingles disease.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

Another term used for the disease is St. Anthony's Fire because of the enduring pain that seems to come from the nerves to the muscles and tissues. Aside from the pain, one will also develop reddish blisters. Fever, chills, fatigue, headache and stomach pains also accompany shingles. Of course, the rashes or blisters may also feel a little itchy.

Are there any complications that follow shingles?

Sometimes, people who have had shingles may experience it a second time. In some cases, even if shingles does not recur, an individual may experience post herpetic neuralgia. This is an enduring and chronic pain usually among the elderly that may go on long after the shingles disease has been treated. In rare instances, shingles can cause some paralysis, encephalitis, pneumonia, blindness, ear problems and even death.

Can shingles spread?

A fresh active blister can spread the virus to people who have not had chicken pox or have not been vaccinated for it. It cannot however, be transmitted through casual, indirect contact. Once the blisters develop a crust, the virus can no longer be spread.

How do you avoid shingles?

From the very beginning it is important to get vaccinated against chicken pox. If you've already had chicken pox before, then you can delay the incidence of shingles disease by keeping your immune system strong and healthy. People with shingles should keep blisters covered to avoid transmitting the virus to others.
About the Author
Do you know what cause shingles? Find your answers from medical experts on shingles disease from its causes to its treatment.
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