Shingles: Symptoms of Shingles and the Hope for a Shingles Cure

Have you been plagued by painful muscle cramping, or burning or tingling sensations in your arms, legs, or hands? If so, then you may be suffering from more than just common muscle pain: you could be suffering from an agonizing condition known as shingles. Shingles is a virus that causes sharp, excruciating muscle and nerve pain. Characterized by a rash of fluid-filled blisters, shingles can attack at any time, leaving you unable to go to work, complete household chores, or even get out of bed. Affecting more than 300,000 men and women every year, it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of shingles in order to find fast shingles treatment.

The Cause of Shingles
Shingles is actually caused by the same chickenpox virus that many of us suffered from as children. This virus, known as "varicella-zoster," can lie dormant in your system for many years after initial exposure. This means that, even after your chickenpox disappears, the varicella-zoster virus remains in your body, traveling deep beneath your skin and along your nerve fibers.. This virus can then reactivate later on (usually years after you have had the chickenpox), and begins to travel back along your nerve fibers until it reaches the surface of your skin. This is what causes the characteristic shingles rash. Sometimes known as St. Anthony's Fire because of its fiery nerve and muscle pain, shingles can reoccur many times in some individuals.

Who is at Risk for Shingles?
Anyone who has had the chickenpox infection is at risk for developing shingles. Other factors can increase your chance of infection, including:

  • experiencing large amounts of stress
  • being fatigued
  • being over the age of 60
  • having a weakened immune system (often due to cancer treatment, chronic diseases like fibromyalgia, or AIDS infection)

The Symptoms of Shingles
Symptoms of shingles virus generally begin to manifest about two to five days after infection. Initial shingles symptoms usually resemble those of the common cold, and may include nausea, fatigue, fever, and chills. As the shingles disease develops, more severe symptoms begin to develop including:

  • itching of the skin
  • numbness beneath the skin
  • the appearance of a shingles rash on the body, which is made up of numerous tiny blisters
  • severe and excruciating nerve and muscle pain

Complications of Shingles
Shingles can be a very nasty infection to have to deal with. Not only does it cause extremely painful nerve and muscle pain, but it can also reappear several times throughout your life. Many shingles sufferers develop a condition known as Postherpetic Neuralgia, which causes ongoing muscle and nerve pain. This condition occurs when the shingles virus has permanently damaged nerves in the body.

Treatments for Shingles
Shingles symptoms generally disappear within three to five weeks. However, treatment is recommended to help encourage shingles pain relief. Your health care provider can offer you oral antiviral medications, including acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, in order to speed up the course of the shingles disease. You may also be prescribed pain relieving medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

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