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What is Shingles?

Shingles is an infectious disease caused by the Varicella zoster virus, a viral nerve infection. This disease can appear on any part of the body, but usually appears as a single strip of blisters on the left or right side of the trunk. Shingles develops as a result of reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox. In a person who has had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain and can reactivate years later, leading to shingles symptoms.

Causes of shingles

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the Varicella zoster virus. Almost everyone who has had chickenpox is at risk, but not all people who have had chickenpox develop shingles. The virus can lodge in the body’s nervous system, remain dormant for a long time and then become active, triggering shingles.

It is still not clear exactly what causes shingles, but the aging process can weaken the immune system, which can increase the risk of shingles. Shingles is more common in older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

Shingles Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of shingles are usually concentrated on one side of the body. Symptoms include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, red rashes, sensitivity to touch and fluid-filled blisters. In rare cases, some people may have additional symptoms such as fever, headache, photosensitivity and fatigue.

Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles and can be quite severe in some cases. The rash appears as a strip of blisters, usually on the right or left side of the torso, but rarely on the face, neck or around the eyes.

Shingles near the eye is called ophthalmic shingles and can lead to serious eye infections and permanent loss of vision. If certain nerves are affected, it can lead to encephalitis, facial paralysis or hearing problems. Shingles rashes can also be accompanied by bacterial infections.

Shingles Diagnosis Methods

To diagnose shingles, doctors start by taking the patient’s medical history and performing a physical examination. Usually, the appearance of the rash and the typical location of the blisters may be enough for a diagnosis. In some cases, however, doctors may perform laboratory tests by taking tissue samples or blister cultures.

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Shingles Treatment Methods

Given that shingles can heal on its own, there is no specific treatment. However, early treatment can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

People with shingles should avoid alcohol, as it can reduce the effectiveness of medicines and cause side effects such as dizziness, especially in older adults.

Also, because shingles blisters are contagious, it is important for shingles patients to avoid contact and not infect others until they have scabbed over.

How to prevent shingles?

Two vaccines are available to prevent shingles. The chickenpox vaccine is used to prevent chickenpox and is recommended for people of any age who have not had chickenpox. The shingles vaccine was developed to directly prevent shingles from occurring or causing serious complications. It is recommended for people over 50 years of age and people over 60 years of age.

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