Shingles is a disease in which the body’s nerves are attacked by a virus. It is extremely painful and curable by nothing other than the passage of time. The pain caused to a patient is often extremely severe, but is manageable by medications. There are several causes for shingles.
Prior Chicken Pox and Shingles
Any individual that has had chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine is at a risk for shingles. Shingles in people over 60 years of age is particularly dangerous, and in response there is now a vaccine against the disease. Shingles, in effect, is latent chicken pox that sits in the body’s nerve endings. Aggravation of the nerve endings and the chicken pox virus causes shingles. The vaccine may prevent shingles, but is not guaranteed.
There is no way to know when or where shingles will appear. When first appearing, shingles looks like a small rash, but the rash causes no pain. Within a few days or even a few hours, the rash will become quite red and painful. Shingles can appear anywhere on a persons’ body. Shingles can last for a few weeks to several months, but eventually clears up on its own.
The number one factor of shingles is stress. Individuals that are undergoing copious amounts of stress, regardless of their attempts to reduce the effects of the stress, are at a very high risk for shingles if they have had chicken pox previously in their lives. After shingles appears, reducing stress through exercise, diet or other methods will not assist in a faster recovery rate. Immediate and long-term stress can both cause shingles.
Trauma to any area of the body can cause shingles. The difficult aspect of this cause is that the trauma does not necessarily need to occur in the same place in which shingles appear. A back injury can cause shingles to develop in a patient’s groin or stomach. Any type of trauma can cause shingles. Additionally, an injury that requires extreme treatment can cause shingles.
Reduced Immune System
Another cause of shingles is a reduced or compromised immune system. Patients undergoing cancer or other treatments in which the immune system is deliberately suppressed are at a risk for developing shingles. This is true even if the patient has not previously had chicken pox. Individuals with a reduced immune system may develop shingles anywhere on their body. Additionally, shingles may last longer because the body is unable to fight the disease. There is no drug to cure shingles.
Like all vaccines, the shingles vaccine places a small amount of the virus into a patient’s body. As such, there is always the chance that a patient will develop shingles. This does not mean that the vaccine should be avoided, but rather that a patient receiving the vaccine should know about the very small risk of developing shingles as a result. Speak with your physician about the risks associated with the vaccine.