Facts About Herpes, A Sexually-Transmitted Disease
The word Herpes conjures up unpleasant images in most peoples’ minds, normally about sexually transmitted infections. Herpes Zoster is a non sexually transmitted disease that most people would recognize by its other name of Shingles. Whilst Shingles is not a sexual infection, it is nonetheless a highly unpleasant condition that can have far-reaching implications for the sufferer, even after the acute phase of the disease has long since passed.
Shingles have been related to the Chickenpox, a common and generally comparatively harmless ailment amongst children. Most children who were born before the nineteen eighties will have experienced chickenpox at some point, and probably escaped relatively unscathed – unlike related illnesses like smallpox or even cowpox, Chickenpox is considered a minor childhood ailment which is not to be much worried about.
How to recognize symptoms
Shingles can be a concern for anyone. Whilst the outward appearance of a person suffering from Shingles may be less worrying than that of a child with chickenpox, this disease is a good deal more serious. Symptoms involve an unpleasant rash and blisters on the skin which can cause significant pain. In the long term, there can be nerve damage which can be extremely difficult to deal with and can cause problems many years after the initial condition has been resolved.
At first, Shingles can be difficult to diagnose. Its initial symptoms – fever, pain and general lethargy – are symptomatic of several different conditions, some of which are likely to prove more serious than others. Until the characteristic blistering rash appears then it is not likely to be apparent to the patient or to a non-medical professional onlooker that the patient is suffering from this condition, even if it is suspected. Once the rash has appeared it is comparatively easy to make a firm diagnosis but there should still be medical tests done to get a clear diagnosis so that the appropriate treatment may be administered and full recovery enabled.
How it’s treated
Shingles – Herpes Zoster – can be extraordinarily painful but some things can be done to mitigate the pain, including the administration of strong painkillers. There are also some preventative measures available but these are not always wholly effective.
A bout of Shingles can last for a very long time – in some cases over a month – and is a miserable experience for the sufferer during this time, despite what measures are taken to mitigate the suffering. An afflicted patient should not go to work or college at this time for fear of passing the infection on to others around them. This can lead to depression in the patient who is being kept in semi-isolation, as well as a loss of income if the person in question is not eligible for sickness benefit. Additionally, the patient may need someone to help take care of them and attend to day to day needs such as grocery shopping as they are too unwell to leave the house to perform these tasks themselves.
Although most patients will eventually recover from Shingles – Herpes Zoster – the amount of time that it takes to do so and the long term damage that might have been caused varies tremendously from case to case and there is no real way to determine a long term outlook at the time of diagnosis. Some things are recognized, however. One is that Shingles tend to affect people with greater severity depending on their age; although rare in young children a young child is more likely to make a full recovery without any long term complications than is an older person. Elderly people are at especial risk of having severe and unpleasant long term complications.
There is no easy way of determining who will be at risk of Shingles. There is not thought to be any genetic component in this illness and just because a parent or other loved one might have had it at some point does not mean that one is likely to contract it oneself. Attacks themselves may vary from person to person also, and just because one person has a very severe attack this does not necessarily follow that a relative of a similar age or even older will fare just as badly.
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