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Alphabetical Disease Lookup

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Shingles

 

Also called as : Herpes zoster, Postherpetic neuralgia

Overview

Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It may not cause problems for many years. As you get older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Unlike chickenpox, you cannot catch shingles from someone who has it.
Shingles is a disease that affects an estimated 2 in every 10 people in their lifetime. Although it is most common in people over age 50, if you have had chickenpox, you are at risk for developing shingles. Shingles is also more common in people with weakened immune systems from HIV infection, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, transplant operations, and stress.

Causes

Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an attack of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the nerve tissue. As we get older, it is possible for the virus to reappear in the form of shingles.

Symptoms

Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching generally located on one side of the body or face. The pain can be severe. Rash or blisters are present anywhere from 1 to 14 days.

Diagnosis

You should go to your health care provider if you develop a rash. By looking at the rash, your health care provider can tell whether you have shingles and start you on treatment if you do.

Treatment

There is no cure for shingles, but the severity and duration of an attack of shingles can be significantly reduced if you are treated immediately with antiviral medicines.

Prevention

The vaccine, called Zostavax, is recommended for people 60 years of age and older who have had chickenpox but who have not had shingles.

Complications

If shingles appears on your face, it can lead to complications in your hearing and vision. For instance, if shingles affects your eye, the cornea can become infected and lead to temporary or permanent blindness. Another complication of the virus is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a condition where the pain from shingles persists for months, sometimes years, after the shingles rash has healed.

 

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