Shingles: Chicken pox virus strikes back

LIKE most people, until it affected me, I knew very little about the condition of shingles.

Shingles is an infection of the nerves and the area of skin supplied by the nerve.

It is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles.

Most people have chickenpox at some stage of their life - usually as a child - but the virus does not completely go after you have chickenpox.

Some virus particles remain inactive in the nerve roots next to your spinal cord. They do no harm there, and cause no symptoms.

But for reasons that are not clear, the virus may begin to multiply again - reactivate. This is often years later and the reactivated virus travels along the nerve to the skin to cause shingles.

In most cases, an episode of shingles occurs for no apparent reason. Sometimes a period of stress or illness can trigger it. An aging immune system may account for it being more common in older people.

There are two main forms of treatments, antiviral medicines to limit the virus and painkillers.

The pain, as shingles affects the nerves, can vary from uncomfortable to extreme.

As with any health concern, visit your medical professional for diagnosis and treatment.



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