What Causes Shingles?

According to studies, almost 90% of the population who had chickenpox develops shingles. That is why it is important to know what causes it so it can be prevented. But, what causes shingles?

Before knowing what causes shingles, it is necessary to know first what shingles is. Shingles, also known as Herpes zoster, is an excruciating disease that occurs when the dormant virus which causes chickenpox to a person reactivates. People with shingles may show symptoms like slight fever, malaise, chills, and upset stomach. Some people may also have a bruised feeling on one side of their face or body, pain in the chest which is followed by tingling, itching or a prickling skin after several days. There are also people who are having a long strip of small, fluid-filled blisters and intermittent deep burning and stabbing pain. Shingles causes a painful rash made up of many blisters on one side of the body and can last from 2 to 5 weeks if left untreated. However, if antiviral medications are applied between a day or two days after the rash appears, the shingles will disappear.

The virus that has causes of shingles varicella zoster virus. When a person comes into contact with the virus, he/she will have a chickenpox and may attack the nerve cells in the brain stem. The varicella zoster virus may also invade the spinal cord of the person. The virus will then be dormant in a person’s body for many years because the immune system of a person will stop it from becoming active. When the virus is triggered, it will cause shingles. The reason why the virus becomes reactive is not yet known. However, there are studies which suggest that the virus may be triggered due to lower immunity to infections as a person matures. That is the reason why shingles is more common in older people. It is also common in people with weak immune system. There are researches which show that there are conditions which may result to the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus. Although not yet proven, these conditions include extreme stress and fatigue. One reason why the virus is reactivated may be because of a weak immune system which may be caused by aging, having a disease, taking a drug which increased the ability of the varicella zoster virus to be active. Cancer may also trigger the reactivation of the virus. There are also speculations that the virus become reactive when a person is in radiation treatments which may be internal or external, injury of the skin where the rashes may occur, and when he/she has Human ImmunoVirus or AIDS.

Knowing what causes shingles is important for every person to prevent them from having the disease. However, we should not forget that it is more important to prevent it. Even though it is not yet confirmed what really causes shingles, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will not just prevent us from getting shingles; it will also prevent us from having any kind of disease.

 

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