THE BIG MISTAKE SHINGLES SUFFERERS MAKE: by Michael N. Oxman, MD, Professor of medicine and pathology.
If you have ever had chicken pox---and 95% of Americans have---you are at risk for the blistering rash and severe pain of shingles. People who get shingles are often tempted to wait for the problem to clear up on its own. But waiting is the worst thing you can do. Without prompt treatmeant with antiviral medication, shingles pain may become chronic. We asked University of California virologist Dr. Michael N. Oxman all about shingles...
*What is shingles, and who gets it? Shingles is a disease of skin and nerves caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus(VZV)---the same virus that causes chicken pox. After a bout of chicken pox, the virus doesn't leave the body. It travels up sensory nerve fibers from the skin and establishes later (dormant) infections in sensory ganglia that last for the rest of an individual's life.
We don't yet know what causes reactivation. We do know that shingles occurs most frequently in people with reduced immunity--individuals taking corticosteroids or immunosuppressant drugs...undergoing chemotherapy...or suffering from HIV infection.
In some cases, shingles may even be triggered by psychological stress. Shingles is especially common among people over 50--presumably because immunity declines with age. Among people who live to 85, half will get the disease.
*Is Shingles contagious? You can't get shingles unless you've had chicken pox---and you can't catch shingles from someone who has shingles. However, if you've never had chicken pox, you can catch chicken pox from a shingles sufferer. The shingles virus is similar to herpes simplex virus, which causes genital herpes. Unlike herpes simplex virus,however, VZV is not transmitted through sexual contact.
*What are the symptoms? Shingles usually begins with pain on one side of the body typically on the trunk or around the eye. The pain--often quite intense--is caused by inflammation created as the virus reproduces within nerve tissue. Pain is generally followed by a rash in the same area one to three days later.
Until the telltale rash appears, shingles is notoriously hard to diagnose. Depending on where the pain is, shingles can resemble a heart attack...gall bladder attack... appendicitis...kidney stone...or a ruptured spinal disk. Shingles can even be mistaken for glaucoma, if the eye is affected.
Once your doctor has ruled out these ailments, keep a close watch for the rash. It's essential to begin treatment as soon as the rash appears.
If treatment isn't started quickly, the virus may spread to other nerve cells. This can cause muscle weakness, hearing loss or other complications. For More Please See: The world's greatest Treasury of Health Secrets Bottom Line Publications
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