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Shingles – How to Tell, and What to Do, If Someone in Your Family is Suffering

Herpes Virus, Herpes Zoster, Varicella, Varicella Zoster Virus

Shingles is medically known as herpes zoster. The herpes virus that causes shingles crawls stealthily along sensory nerves and frequently girdles the torso with its trail of painful eruptions. The pain is often agonizing. Some of the early symptoms as shingles are fever, chills, and general malaise. It can actually mimic the flu, but has often been mistaken for a heart attack, brain tumor or another serious condition. More symptoms that a person with shingles can experience is numbness, superficial tingling, and intense burning or itching sensations progressing to severe, agonizing pain. Doctors also state that a rash can develop on the rib cage, lower back, chest, neck, forehead, or eyes. Eventually the rash can get worse developing into watery blisters that can resemble poison ivy.

Medical researchers have established that many people that suffer from shingles usually infect themselves. They also have found that the herpes virus that causes shingles is the same highly contagious one that causes chicken pox. Which is why someone who has shingles can cause another person to have chicken pox. In order to get shingles however you have to have first had chicken pox. After a person has an episode of chicken pox, usually as a child, their immune system does not completely rid the body of the varicella-zoster virus. It travels to a remote nerve center (researchers feel this to be a spinal or cranial area), and there it lies dormant until such time as it finds circumstances favorable for striking again, often years later when the immune system tends to be weaker.

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Those that are most likely to get shingles are usually those in there fifties. This is something you will have to worry about as your parents grow older. Many people end up caring for their elderly parents when they are no longer able to care for themselves. If you are caring for an elderly parent there are several things that can cause them to have a bout with shingles. For example if they have a period of severe illness, prolonged fatigue, trauma, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment they can end up having shingles. What happens is that all of these things can compromise or weaken your immune system. In order to treat this illness doctors will usually prescribe an antiviral drug, which has been successful in treating various herpes infections. Even though it is not a cure it has been prov-en to slow down the replication of the virus and tends to decrease the pain and the duration of the disease in some patients. The earlier treatment is started the better the results.

There are tons of home remedies that people will probably tell you about, but you will still want to speak to your doctor about it first. If you suspect that your parent is suffering from this and has a few of the symptoms listed above you will want to take them to the doctor immediately