Shingles - No Need to Suffer!

Fall 2003 CSANews Issue 48  |  Posted date : Apr 25, 2007.Back to list

Shingles (herpes zoster) is caused by the chicken pox virus. A person who has had chicken pox, usually as a child, retains the virus which comes out from a dormant stage at the end of a nerve root. This occurs more commonly after the age of 50 and can cause pain, irritation, numbness and a rash. It occurs on one side of the body and, when involving the face, can cause serious eye complications. It is only contagious to persons who have never had chicken pox and cannot be transmitted as shingles per se. The condition often presents initially as pain in one side of the body and is difficult to diagnose at this stage, but is often suggestive. Once the rash occurs, the diagnosis can be confirmed and at this stage, it's important for you to see a doctor immediately because effective treatment in the form of antiviral medication is now available. The drugs are most effective if taken as soon as possible following the outset of the rash, and are provided by most provincial government plans if this criterion is met. Treatment may not only lessen the signs and symptoms of the acute phase, they may also minimize the duration of "post-herpetic" neuralgia, if it develops. This is the debilitating continued pain from which elderly persons in particular may suffer for months or years after the rash has gone. Shingles is no longer a condition considered to be untreatable. If you suffer the signs and symptoms of possible shingles, seek attention early. You never know what you may be missing!