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Can Stress Bring On Shingles

Emotional Stress And Shingles: How Can We Help

Med Talk, Health Talk: Shingles

7 February, 2022 by International Medical Clinic

Shingles is a viral illness in which a painful rash develops. The rash can occur anywhere on your body although, it often appears as a stripe of blisters that wrap around the left or right side of your torso. The symptoms generally only affect a small section of one side of your body.

Can Stress Trigger Shingles

Medically reviewed in December 2021

Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After chickenpox has resolved, this virus remains in the body but stops causing symptoms. Years lateroften many years laterthe virus can become active again, causing shingles.

Here, we look at one of the factors that may contribute to the reactivation of VZVstress.

The stress and shingles connection Some studies suggest that people under significant stress are more prone to a shingles outbreak. Some preliminary research even suggests that stress can cause a shingles outbreak in some people.

Whats the reason for this? Although more research is needed regarding the relationship between stress and shingles, it is known that stress can have a negative impact on the body, including the immune system.

Stressespecially severe or long-term stresshas been linked to a wide range of health issues including gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more. While some stress in life is inevitable, there are ways to reduce or better manage stress. These include:

Medically reviewed in December 2021.

Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later

After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.

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What To Do If You Notice Symptoms

If you think you may have shingles, you should call your health provider, urges Dr. Golden. “Early treatment of shingles with antiviral medications can shorten the duration of the rash and prevent postherpetic neuralgia, the chronic pain that may complicate infection,” she explains. “Importantly, if you think you have shingles near the eye, it is very important to seek medical care immediately.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Effects Of Stress On Your Body

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Scientists differ in their opinions on the relationship between stress and shingles, but most people agree that stress has an effect on the body. Researchers have linked stress, particularly when severe or long-term, to a wide range of issues, including:

  • gastrointestinal issues
  • changes in mood, including increasing feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety
  • overeating or undereating
  • cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation

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Assess Your Pain Levels

In general, most people with active shingles infections can perform daily activities as tolerated, but rating your pain can help you decide when to do a specific exercise or activity and when to avoid it. Consider using a numerical pain rating scale, which has you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst possible pain.

Make a note of your pain level each day and if a particular activity worsened it. Consider writing it down in a journal or as a note in your phone. That way, you can track which activities affect your pain levels and adjust accordingly.

What’s The Difference Between Chickenpox And Shingles

Chickenpox and shingles are two infectious diseases that are often confused with one another. Thats because theyre caused by the same virus, called varicella-zoster.

Varicella is a highly contagious virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing, or through direct contact with an infected skin lesion. It commonly spreads in schools, due to the high volume of students potentially in close contact. Adults can get infected with varicella, too, and these cases tend to be more serious than in those of healthy children.

Vaccinating against chickenpox is very common in the U.S. Theres also a vaccine available for shingles for people who are 50 and older.

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Things To Know About The Shingles Virus

Intense pain, burning, tingling and a blistering rash these are some of the common symptoms of shingles.

If youve ever had chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles is dormant in your nerve tissue.

So what causes shingles to spring to life wreaking havoc on your body and what can you do about it? Here are seven things you should know about the shingles virus.

1. Shingles is chicken pox coming back to get you

2. A common cold could trigger shingles

3. You can get shingles more than once

4. You cant give someone shingles

5. Vaccination can prevent shingles

6. Treatment options vary

7. Its rare but shingles can cause blindness

Randell Wexler is an associate professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

What Should You Expect If You Get Shingles

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Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and end symptoms earlier.

A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.

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How Is Shingles Treated

Like other viral infections, shingles will resolve on its own if left untreated. However, in specific clinical situations, a course of anti-viral medications can reduce the duration and severity of the shingles rash. In addition, it can minimise post-infection complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia . This is especially important if the rash affects certain parts of the body, the rash is causing severe pain and inflammation, or the patient is above 50 years of age or is immunosuppressed. The anti-viral medication is most effective if given within 72hours of the rash appearing. A course usually lasts for seven days and is generally well tolerated. Other helpful treatments include calamine lotion for the itch and painkillers to manage the pain.

While The Science Hasn’t Proven A Direct Casual Link There Is Some Kind Of Stress

by Health Writer

One could easily say that shinglesthe painful, blistering reemergence of the virus that gave you chicken pox when you were a kidis itself a very stressful situation. And, to make matters trickier, its possible that some particularly anxiety-producing experience preceded the outbreak, triggering the rash in the first place. What have researchers learned about the stress-shingles connection, and what do physicians who treat it have to say on the subject? Relax as much as you canand read on.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Shingles often starts with a burning, tingling, or painful sensation along one side of the torso or head. Within one to five days, a rash will appear. Within a few days, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters. The blisters will start to dry up about a week later, and will begin to disappear over the next several weeks. Some people only experience mild itching, but others have intense pain.

If you think you may have shingles, see your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you see blisters on your face or near your eye. Shingles can cause hearing or vision loss, especially if you dont get treatment for it.

No matter where your rash appears, you should seek medical treatment quickly. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe treatments to help the blisters dry up and heal. This can reduce the duration of the outbreak and your discomfort.

No cure is available for shingles, but most people who have an outbreak get it only once.

Doing the following at home may help you to feel more comfortable:

  • Get lots of rest.
  • Use cool washcloths on your rash.
  • Take oatmeal baths.
  • Keep your stress to a minimum.

You should keep the rash covered and wash your hands often to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Shingles isnt contagious, but you can give someone chickenpox while you have it.

You Cannot Get Shingles From Someone With Chickenpox

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You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.

When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.

This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.

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Can Stress Really Increase Your Risk For Infections

Studies have shown that people with greater levels of continuous stress are more prone to getting some infectious diseases.

It is important to note, however, that stress levels differ from person-to-person, due to individual differences in a persons emotional and physiological makeup. Therefore, a situation that causes significant stress for one person may or may not have the same effect on another.

Stress Cortisol And Your Immune System

How stress can impact an immune system is complex, says Marla Shapiro, C.M., M.D., a professor in family and community medicine at the University of Toronto. The science tells us that stress impacts our hormones, which in turn have an impact on our ability to mount defense responses. With stress our physiologic guard is down, so to speak, she says.

The hormone at work here, Dr. Shapiro points out, is cortisol. A surge in cortisol in response to stressthe ancient adaptation often referred to as the fight-or-flight mechanismactually boosts immunity by reducing inflammation if the stimulus is briefakin to a saber tooth tiger, say, attacking a prehistoric cave dweller. But life isnt prehistoric anymore, and modern stressors can be unrelenting, such as job loss or toxic workplaces, relationship reversals like divorce, health crises, the death of a loved one, poverty, discrimination, and even unprecedented shocks like a global pandemic.

What this means is our cortisol levels surge far more often, and they stay higher for longer. And thats where our bodys immunity powers get tripped up. Sustained higher levels of cortisol end up increasing inflammation over time, as well as suppressing lymphocytes, those white blood cells that fight off infections. The lower your lymphocyte levels, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold, cold sores, and a nasty virus hibernating in your central nervous systemVZV.

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Stages Of Chickenpox And Shingles

The progress of each disease can be marked through stages. Some stages will last longer for some, depending on your age, immune system, and other factors.

Stages of chickenpox

The main stages in chickenpox are:

  • Exposure to the virus: It takes 10 to 21 days after exposure for symptoms to start.
  • Initial symptoms: Feeling unwell, body aches, fever, and headache are usually the first symptoms to set in.
  • Small red bumps on the body: These usually develop on the torso or face first, eventually covering the body.
  • Bumps develop into blisters: The itchy lesions will fill with fluid and become blisters.
  • Blisters scab over and heal: After all your blisters scab over, youre no longer contagious.
  • Stages of shingles

  • Feeling unwell: You might develop fever, headaches, or body aches before developing the rash.
  • Tingling pain: Its common to feel tingles, pain, or itchiness in the area the rash will develop.
  • Burning rash: Anywhere from 1 to 5 days after the tingling started, the rash will start to develop.
  • Blisters: The rash will start to blister and then crust over.
  • You may still feel mild or extreme pain after the rash is gone, due to a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia . You can develop shingles more than once, but it is rare.

    Tips To Reduce Stress In Our Bodies

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  • Exercise at least 3 times/week: Exercise has a huge effect on our physical and mental health. It helps to release feel good endorphins in our bodies, which improve our emotional state and help us to feel less stressed. It also is a physical release for pent up anxiety that we may have. Exercise also keeps our bodies tuned up and physically healthy, improving our heart, lung, and brain function. It is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress in your life and keep your body healthy.
  • Connect with your support system: None of us were made to go through life alone, which is why this pandemic has been so hard for so many of us. We miss the physical touch of hugs, dining with friends in restaurants, and large family gatherings. Even though we miss these things, we can find other ways to connect with people. Gathering outdoors with friends and family is a perfect way to stay connected and still socially distance. Maybe walking with a friend a few times of week, gives you the support and social interaction that you need. Find those friends that encourage you and support you, and make it a point to regularly connect with them. Maybe you cant do the same activities that you used to do together, but do not forsake being with the people whom you love and care about. We need each other!
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    Can You Get Shingles From The Covid

    There have been a few reports of shingles happening in people who were vaccinated against COVID-19. The varicella-zoster virus was reactivated in these people.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles causes a rash that is contagious and painful. The disease can have serious complications. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective.

    The #1 Cause Of Shingles According To Science

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three Americans will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime. While the majority of people are well aware that the disease manifests itself as a blistering rash, there are many things you might not know about shingles, including why it occurs, who is most at risk and what its number one cause is. Read on to learn everything you need to know about shingles. Read on until the end so you can protect yourselfand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

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    Preventing The Virus Spreading

    If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

    You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

    Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

    • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
    • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
    • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

    Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

    Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles

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    Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.

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    First What Causes Shingles

    If youve had chickenpox as a child, you may develop shingles later on in life. However, very rarely people who have not had chickenpox before have developed shingles. Even after you have overcome the chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in your bodys nerve cells. Shingles occur when the chickenpox virus called varicella zoster virus reactivates, causing a painful rash of blisters to appear. Shingles typically last anywhere from two to six weeks. Typically, the first symptom of shingles is a burning sensation or tingling pain that occurs on one side of the body in a band-like pattern. You may also feel itching and severe pain from even the lightest touch.

    As you get older, your risk of developing shingles increases. The majority of people who develop shingles are 50 and older. As we age, our immune systems become less effective at defending us against bacterial, fungi and viral infections, making us more susceptible to the shingles virus.

    Can Stress Cause Shingles

    Its become almost a cliché to tell family caregivers to remember to take care of themselves, but its for good reason: many of them end up combatting serious illness after their immune systems become weakened under stress. Shingles is one such disease that afflicts some family caregivers who find themselves overwhelmed with so many care responsibilities.

    What Is Shingles?

    Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. About half of the people in the United States who contract shingles are age 60 or older and almost one out of every three people in the U.S. will develop shingles. This is partly because the immune system is weakening with age, so the combination of age and stress can leave a person susceptible to an outbreak of shingles.

    While stress itself does not cause shingles, todays typical family caregiver is someone in the age range to have had chickenpox as a childand therefore possibly a virus still in their bodyand this means that when the stress of caring for an elder loved one gets to be too much, they may develop a painful case of shingles.

    Symptoms include pain in the form of a burning or tingling on one side of the body followed a few days later by a red rash. Not everyone develops a rash, fever or headache too. If someone suspects shingles, they should contact their health care provider, but it is urgent if the symptoms occur near an eye or if you have a weakened immune system due to another chronic illness.


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