Shingles treatment takes many forms, one of which is narcotics. Shingles is incurable, but will clear on its own over time. However, the virus causes large amounts of pain in those affected by the disease. Below is a description of shingles and the use of narcotics in treating the pain caused by shingles.
Shingles is a virus that attacks a patient’s nerve endings and causes pain. This is because the body’s immune system fights the virus on the nerve endings, and all that activity causes pain. A vaccine for the virus has been developed, but is not completely effective. Shingles appears through a rash on any part of the body.
The virus that causes shingles lies dormant in every individual that has chicken pox or who has had the chicken pox vaccine. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing shingles include stress, a weakened immune system and trauma to a portion of the body.
There is no cure for shingles; rather, physician treatment of the virus focuses on managing a patient’s pain. There are many methods for pain management, but the majority focus on reducing the frequency of nerves firing or on dulling the body’s pain receptors.
Shingles and Narcotics
Narcotics are the most commonly prescribed means of handling the pain caused by shingles. Narcotics must be prescribed by a physician and are typically covered by insurance. If, however, a patient does not have insurance, narcotics can be quite expensive.
Narcotics work by dulling the body’s ability to feel pain. They do not, therefore, affect the neurons that are firing and causing pain, but do reduce the body’s ability to feel the pain that the firing neurons cause. The theory behind narcotic usage for shingles treatment is the same as dulling the pain caused by any other injury or illness.
Narcotics are prescribed by a physician. They are usually ingested in pill form, but may also be administered through injections. Because of the high chances of a patient becoming addicted to narcotics, their prescription and usage is highly regulated.
After ingested, narcotics affect the entire body. Therefore, the location of shingles is irrelevant and will, hopefully, be affected by the narcotics. The amount and type of narcotics that are prescribed differ depending on the severity of the virus, the stage of the virus and the patient’s medical conditions. Many times, pain medications will be started at the lowest possible dosage and then be increased if they are ineffective. As the virus clears itself out of the body, these pain medications will be gradually reduced to prevent side-effects that could result from withdrawal symptoms.
Narcotics and Other Treatments
Narcotics can be combined with other treatment methods, such as antiviral medications, but are not usually combined with other pain management medications. Using multiple pain medications can result in either an addiction to the type of medications or even counteract each other. Multiple pain medications can also cause other bodily organs to decrease in their productivity or even shut down.