HealingWithNutrition.com     1-800-943-1123 Home |  SiteMap | Education | Products     
Researched Strategies

Facts, Nutritional Support Strategies

Shingles Facts and Statistics

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, occurs in 20% of the general population, affecting as many as one million Americans yearly. More than 1 in every 10 people who have had chicken pox as children will get shingles as adults. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, or the chickenpox virus. This virus lies dormant in the body near the spinal cord and the nerve ganglia until something, usually severe stress or a weakened immune system, reactivates it. Once reactivated, the virus travels along the nerve paths, destroying these paths as it goes, to the skin where it erupts into a rash.

Before the rash erupts, the affected area may become flushed and sensitive to the touch and some may experience chills, fever, achiness, and pain.Before the rash erupts, the affected area may become flushed and sensitive to the touch and some may experience chills, fever, achiness, and pain. The skin may tingle or itch and some may experience stabbing pain at the site. After a few days of this a band or patch of raised dots will appear on one side of the body, usually on one side of the trunk, abdomen, arms, legs or, less commonly on the face. (If these blisters are on the face, see an ophthalmologist immediately since this form of shingles may cause blindness or other eye problems such as corneal ulcers.) In another few days, the spots will become painful fluid-filled blisters which will continue to appear for up to a week. These blisters may be accompanied by numbness, depression, tingling, shooting pains, fever, and headache. In two to five weeks, the blisters will dry out, crust over, and eventually fall off. Occasionally, the patches of blisters will grow together, forming a solid mass of scabs which may leave permanent scars. A second attack of shingles is rare and may signal some other medical problem.

Those most at risk for shingles are:

  • Anyone who has already had chickenpox - Shingles is basically a second outbreak of the chickenpox virus. Since it is caused by a preexisting virus in the body, shingles is not contagious and can not cause other forms of herpes. It could, however, cause chickenpox in someone who hasn't had chickenpox before.

  • People over the age of 50 - The immune system is weakened with advancing age, allowing the shingles virus to become active and grow. Seventy percent of shingles cases occur in patients over the age of 50 while 50% of those age 80 and up will develop shingles. Stressful situations are usually the trigger for these outbreaks.

  • People over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for shingles since the immune system is weakened by advancing age, allowing the shingles virus to become active and grow.People with weakened immune systems- Patients with HIV infection or AIDS (who are 9 times more likely to develop shingles), some cancer patients, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, those with lymphoid malignancies (especially Hodgkin's disease), organ transplant recipients (especially those receiving bone marrow transplants) and people being treated with immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids are especially at risk for developing shingles because their weakened immune systems can't fight off the dormant virus. Shingles and shingles-related complications can be devastating for people with immune deficiencies since it can affect internal organs and may even cause death as a result of a secondary bacterial infection or viral pneumonia brought on by shingles.

Although increasing age and a weakened immune system are primary triggers for shingles, any physical or emotional stress can cause the disease.

Top of Page

Shingles Diseases

  • Post-Herpetic Neuralgia: Post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN is caused by lasting nerve damage resulting from an outbreak of shingles. This damage causes the pain associated with shingles to last for months or even years after the blisters have scabbed and fallen off. PHN affects one-third of all shingles sufferers and is the most serious complication of shingles. Those most at risk for developing PHN are the elderly, those who experienced severe or moderately severe pain before or at the time the rash appeared, those with a severe rash, and those who failed to obtain adequate antiviral treatment within 3 days of the appearance of the rash. People on chemotherapy drugs for cancer or on immunity suppressing drugs to protect organ transplants and those with HIV are at the highest risk of PHN. Post-herpetic neuralgia is diagnosed if pain lasts for more than 30 days after the appearance of the rash and is treated with high doses of pain killers (some containing opioids), tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants. There is currently no cure for PHN.

  • Secondary Bacterial Infection: Shingles blisters may become infected with a secondary bacterial infection which may lead to scarring.

  • Motor Paralysis: Shingles may cause some motor paralysis near the affected area. Most patients recover quickly from this paralysis and when it is present of the trunk it is often not very noticeable. Of those affected with shingles-related paralysis 55% make a complete recovery while 30% of those remaining show significant improvement.

  • Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome: Symptoms of the Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome are pain in the middle ear, blistering of the external ear canal, ear pinna and throat, and loss of taste. Usually, the affected person will make a complete recovery although that recovery may take months.

  • Herpes Zoster Meningoencepalitis: Herpes Zoster Meningoencepalitis is an inflammatory condition of the brain. It is a very rare complication of shingles, and it usually resolves quickly with a full recovery as the norm.

  • Recurrent or Disseminated Shingles: A second attack of shingles is rare in most people. Those with HIV and immunocompromised children and adults are nine times more likely to suffer from repeated attacks of shingles. Sometimes in these cases the organs may be affected and the disease can become life threatening.

Top of Page

Shingles Nutritional Support Strategies

Effective help is available now for people who want to proactively manage their disease and enjoy life to the fullest. The traditional approach is medications and physical therapy, but now a massive amount of nutrient research validates the effect diet and supplements can have for the body to heal. Lifestyle changes can also make a big difference.

Our Shingles Self-management Program will give you this nutrient association information as well as other helpful lifestyles changes for managing the disease. We also include the Center for Disease Control Framework for Shingles Prevention and Control to help you understand on a large scale what the government is doing.

Top of Page

Related Links

After Shingles: An easy to understand site sponsored by the Visiting Nurses Associations of America. Includes basic information about shingles, how it is treated, a question and answer section, and links to other helpful sites.

We welcome all Email!

   ©Copyright 1999-2001 Personal Health Lifestyles, Inc. All rights reserved.
       Please read our Copyright and Legal Disclaimer.