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Shingles - Migraine Connection

Shingles or herpes zoster is a disease caused by varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chicken pox on children. Shingles is characterized by excruciating pain and fluid-filled blisters. This pain, which may include burning or tingling sensation, itching and shooting pain including feeling of pins jabs especially around the location where blister may appear will be extreme. After one day up to two weeks, blister will appear; this will then confirm that the condition is shingles.

Because of the severe pain, people mistake this for migraine. Although, there is a possibility that recurring shingles may lead to migraine, the severe pain in the initial stage is not yet migraine, it is a symptom of shingles.

Shingles Symptoms and Signs

  • Pain will be felt after one day to two weeks before blisters will appear. This pain however will not disappear until months after the blisters are gone
  • Fluid-filled blisters will appear especially in the skin where nerve cells are damaged by herpes zoster or shingles.
  • The blisters will also cause sagging of the muscles. This is due to the damage of muscle cells because of the virus.

Causes of Shingles

The most significant cause of shingles is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Chickenpox virus after being suppressed will hide under the nerves near the spinal cord. The location where the chickenpox virus will leave dormant until reactivated is called the dorsal root ganglion.

When the immune system of the person is decreased, the possibility of reactivating the varicella zoster virus is great. Thus, in order to avoid the possibility of reactivating the virus, elderly people will need to ensure that the immune system is supplemented.

Elderly people are more at risk of shingles than younger, more immune strong individuals.

Treatment and Therapy of Shingles

There is no known cure for shingles up to this time. However, severity of shingles and the after effect, which may probably be postherpetic neuralgia, may be controlled if therapy will be assured.

Various therapy that may help lessen the pain and shorten the existence of blisters are the following:

  • Painkillers
  • Steroids
  • Anti-depressant drugs
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Anti-bacterial drugs

Diagnosis of Shingles

Diagnosis of the shingles is quite difficult especially before the blisters appear. Often, even doctors mistake shingles to a heart attack because of the extreme feeling of pain.

Migraine is also another misdiagnosis of shingles. Although, there is a great possibility that migraine may develop due to recurrent shingles and weakening of the muscles in and around the head. It is therefore necessary to control pain with strong pain relievers before venturing into treating other cases.

Blisters may come within two weeks and thus will be better to wait a while before taking any medication for this condition.

As soon as fluid-filled blisters appear, your doctor may then be able to diagnose you properly and advise the best medication for your case.

Stages of Shingles

Initially, because the reactivation of varicella zoster virus from chicken pox, which lies near the spinal cord, back pain is the first sign of shingles. Small rash spots where the pain is being felt often accompany this back pain.

Slowly, this rash will spread around the body. More pain will then be felt. This pain may be mistaken for other diseases.

Finally, bubbles filled with fluid will come out. This is the area of the body where blisters will appear in the location of the damaged nerve cells due to the virus.

Understanding shingles will give you the advantage of being able to avoid the development of shingles by ensuring that your immune system will be able to ward off this disease. This will also avoid reactivating the varicella zoster virus that may lead to shingles or herpes zoster.