About Shingles, its Symptoms & Treatment Information

Shingles is a patch of painful blisters that appear on one side of the body. These blisters are filled with fluid. These blisters are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the virus that causes chicken pox in us. This virus belongs to the herpes family. Hence shingles is also known as herpes zoster. Shingles is a work in Latin which means belt, and zoster in Greek means belt. It is called so since the blisters form a belt on one side of the body.

Persons who are affected by chicken pox in the early part of their life are prone to the attack of the shingles. Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus which remains dormant in our nerve cells for a long time. Shingles affects mostly the elders, people who are above the age of 60. Around half of the people who are above 80 are affected by shingles. Estimates say that 10 to 20 percent of all the Americans are affected by shingles at some point of time in their life.
There is no clear treatment for shingles as of now, but you can use medicines to minimize the effect of shingles and to reduce the duration of shingles. Since shingles is caused by a virus, anti-viral medicines help in reducing the effect of shingles. Anti-viral medicines like acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), or valacyclovir (Valtrex) are used during the initial stages of the outbreak of shingles. This would reduce the effect of shingles and its duration.

Some complications are possible due to the effect of shingles. Persons who have shingles near the eyes have to seek an opthalmologist, since it may affect their eyes and in due course their vision also. It can also affect the ear and cause deafness and paralysis of the face. If symptoms like high fever and confusion occurs during shingles, as a rare case it may cause inflammation of the brain. Hence care should be taken to deal with shingles in such cases. Approach a medical practitioner if the above symptoms occurs in a person.

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