The same virus that causes chickenpox makes one susceptible to shingles. Once you’ve had chickenpox, you can develop shingles at any time in the future.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is an infection that becomes active in the body after the chickenpox virus becomes active again, after lying dormant for months or even years at nerve endings. Once shingles is active, it causes a rash to erupt on the skin where the nerve endings are located. If there is an internal organ connected to the nerves where shingles strikes the body, the virus will attack the organ. This is known as internal shingles and can lead to some very serious complications.
Symptoms of Internal Shingles
It’s important to know all you can about internal shingles, so you can get the medical attention you need right away. The first sign of the condition is usually lymph node swelling. The inflammation will likely take place in the groin area or in the underarm region. This is a sign that the immune system is attempting to attack the virus.
Additional symptoms include unexplained pain in the abdomen. The stomach becomes sensitive to touch and you may have gastrointestinal issues if your digestive tract is affected by shingles. Blisters in your throat and mouth can also develop, which can be very painful. The sores make it difficult for you to eat or drink. These are considered mild signs of shingles; other serious symptoms can result as well.
For instance, Hutchinson’s sign is a major complication associated with shingles. This is characterized by a rash that shows up at the end of the nose. This can cause vision problems, eye swelling, and temporary blindness in some cases. If you notice a rash on your nose, seek medical treatment right away. You should also go to the doctor as soon as possible if the rash shows up on your neck, mouth, face or ear. The rash is a sign that your facial nerves are being affected by shingles. You could even suffer from dizziness, excruciating ear pain, hearing loss, and paralysis of the face. These symptoms are temporary, fortunately, but still require immediate medical attention.
Sometimes, shingles can invade body tissues and systems, such as the central nervous system, brain and lungs. If shingles develops in the lungs, it could cause pneumonia. When the brain is affected by shingles, conditions like confusion, headaches and dizziness can occur; when there is a viral infection in the brain, this often results in encephalitis. This condition swells the meninges of the brain and could damage the surrounding nerves. The complications from these serious symptoms could be life-threatening.
Internal Shingles Treatment
Acyclovir is often the treatment for internal shingles. This is an antiviral medication that keeps shingles DNA from replicating and stops the symptoms. Valacyclovir and famciclovir are other medicines used to treat shingles. If an individual develops posttherpetic neuralgia as a result of shingles, he/she may experience significant pain for years. Steroids and antidepressants are often prescribed to shingles patients as well to ease pain and make treatment more effective.
In most cases, it takes between 3 to 5 weeks for internal shingles to be effectively treated. Most of the time, the condition is cured without any serious complications. Those who will likely exhibit severe signs of internal shingles include, those with compromised immune systems, children, and the elderly.