Shingles - is it serious?
People who have had it agree that they would never want to repeat it again. No wonder, because this disease is not light and harmless. Shingles may last from 2 to even 4 weeks, is troublesome, painful, and its appearance requires an immediate visit to the doctor. This is very important as it can lead to serious complications if left untreated. How do you recognize it and what does it have to do with smallpox? Read on later in the article.
Shingles - what causes it?
Shingles is caused by the Varicella zoster virus, which comes from the group of herpes viruses (e.g. herpes). It can cause chickenpox or shingles, although it is more often the first of these diseases. Chickenpox is mostly found in children, but there is no rule and the elderly can also get sick with it. Shingles, on the other hand, affects mainly the elderly, between 60 and 70 years of age, although it can also occur in younger people, not only children suffer from it.
After the Varicella zoster virus causes chickenpox in our body and we develop this disease, we become immune to it, but we become exposed to shingles. It is also a threat to us when we did not suffer from smallpox in childhood, but are in the company of a person who is suffering from it.
Theoretically, a vaccine can protect us from shingles, but lowered immunity can cause it to reach our body anyway.
The mentioned virus does not disappear from the body. The dormant locates in the ganglia. Such a state may last for several dozen years! The reason why it suddenly becomes active is not fully known.
What is shingles?
We've already told you what causes shingles, but what exactly is it? Shingles appears as painful blisters, most often on one side of the body. They are usually arranged like a belt. Hence the name of this disease. The disease is contagious, it is spread by airborne droplets or contact with a sick person. If we get sick, it is worth avoiding other people until scabs appear.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Before the blisters appear, the skin may be sore, tingling, itchy and burning. The bubbles are similar to those that appear during smallpox, but are concentrated in one place and, as already mentioned, form a sort of belt. They appear primarily on the back, abdomen or other parts of the torso, although this is not always the case as in some cases it is the face, arm or leg.
The rash will burn, hurt and itch, but under no circumstances should you scratch it as this can lead to complications.
Additional symptoms may include fever, sore throat, headache, stomach problems, chills, and body weakness.
Over time, the bubbles dry up and form scabs that should fall off without our intervention.
Shingles - complications
Untreated shingles can be very serious as it can lead to complications. The most common ones include itching or pain that continues for a long time after all other symptoms have ceased. This makes normal functioning extremely difficult.
Other, more serious complications can be encephalitis, retinitis, and even stroke.
As soon as we notice the first concerns, we must immediately see a doctor.
It is said that shingles that have been experienced once does not reappear. It is not a rule and it happens that the disease repeats itself, but most often the first time is also the last time, which is comforting. That is why it is so important to intervene quickly and completely cure the disease.