My husband is going through a lot of stressful events lately. Financial and family problems are making his life complicated and stressful. One of the first damages that stress is producing on him is the deterioration of his health. He is suffering from different health conditions, from frequent colds, stomach pains and strong headaches. The last serious illness that affected him was an infection produced by shingles.
After a couple of days observing how a skin rash in the superior part of his stomach was developing from a single line to a group of pimples, painful and hard to the touch, he started suffering from a lot of local pain. The area where the rash was located was hurting him increasingly, to the point that he went to the doctor. (It must hurt him A LOT, because my husband, as many men, hates doctors, and only visit them when the situation is impossible to ignore).
The doctor, after a blood test and an exam of the area affected by the rash diagnosed him with shingles.
Shingles is an infection produced by a virus, the herpes zoster. The most visible symptom is a skin rash with hard and painful blisters generally shaped in a stripe. The curios aspect of this disease is that it is a “recovery” of another disease dormant for sometimes many years, the chicken pox. Some patients who suffered from varicella years ago didn’t eliminate completely the virus, and it slept on their system until it woke up again, producing another viral episode. The virus may be latent for long time in the nerve cell bodies, without causing any trouble, until it wakes up and starts traveling and causing a viral infection in the skin of the area, spreading as a painful rash. Headaches, pain in the area and general discomfort are the most common symptoms of this disease.
The reasons why the chickenpox virus is not completely eliminated after being suffered by a patient, and how it gets reactivate are not well known. What we know is that is very rare that the virus become latent after the second time that it reactivates, so the shingles normally affect us once in one time life.
And we know as well that the subjects that suffer from this health condition have their immune system somehow compromised. When the body’s defenses are low, the herpes zoster reactivates, and the viral infection finds easy its way to spread to the nervous system. In my husband’s case, the stress that was mining his immune system gave open access to the advance of the infection.
The treatment of shingles is relative simple. An antiviral medication will control the infection, generally treated by Aciclovir. Painkillers may be necessary to reduce the pain.
While the chicken pox is a disease that is very contagious, the shingles can’t be spread by contact, however, during the open blisters stage, the patient can spread the chicken pox to another person whose immune system is low in defenses.
A vaccine, formulated to prevent chicken pox, may reduce to half the occurrence of herpes zoster.
My husband answered well to the treatment, and he recovered fast. Now, he tries to eat healthy to fell stronger and strength his immune system, and he exercises to reduce stress.