The creation of the shingles vaccine has been revolutionary in minimizing the instance of shingles in older adults and those who are immunocompromised. Although shingles itself can be especially painful, vaccinating yourself against the virus can reduce your risk of serious complications from an outbreak.
In many cases, the blood-brain barrier helps keep pathogens from reaching the brain. In rare cases, an outbreak of shingles can infiltrate the brain, leading to the viral form of encephalitis. Not only is the pathogen dangerous once it reaches the brain, the natural inflammatory response by the immune system can be even more dangerous than the pathogen itself. Inflammation is the body's way of ridding itself of a pathogen, but can cause considerable swelling and damage to the brain. Even when the infection is successfully treated with antiviral medications many people continue to experience significant complications. Brain damage, seizures, cognitive and memory impairments, and loss of physical functioning may be permanent if shingles reaches the brain.
One of the most common complications of shingles is when symptoms associated with the shingles rash persist long after the rash has healed. When the rash is present, people typically experience blistering, burning, and pain along the path of the rash. Similar pain may be felt if a person experiences post-herpetic neuralgia. The pain may be akin to the symptoms felt by people with peripheral neuropathy, which is often described as "pins and needles," shooting, stabbing, or burning. Unfortunately, little can be done to soothe the residual pain beyond analgesic medications and those used for other forms of neuropathy. The underlying cause of post-herpetic neuralgia is damage to the nerves caused by the shingles virus. Some cases may lessen over time if the nerve is able to heal.
Weakness and Paralysis
The shingles virus lies dormant in the nervous system and when it resurfaces it travels along a specific path based on the nerves affected. Since shingles can affect any of the branches of the spinal nerves, its complications can be vast and unpredictable. If nerve branches in the face are affected, the damage may extend beyond a visible rash and affect the movement of the facial muscles. Similarly, nerves responsible for movement of the arms or legs may suffer damage. Nerve damage may cause temporary or permanent weakness or paralysis.
Shingles is a serious condition that may prove disabling or life-threatening in rare instances. If you had chicken pox and are at risk for shingles due to advanced age or because of treatment with immunosuppressive medications, it is invaluable to be vaccinated against the virus.
I am one of those people who hates going to the doctor. In the past, I have relied on everything from cranberry juice to apple cider vinegar to fix my ails. As I get older though, I find that I need to rely more on traditional medicine than I did in the past. What I found out from my doctor is that I did not have to give up the holistic medicines I used. I could combine them. This blog is designed to help others focus on how to combing holistic treatments with traditional medicine in a safe and fun way.