Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that is also responsible for causing chickenpox. Only those who have been struck by chickenpox, can develop shingles in the future. Shingles is more or less similar to chickenpox in manifestation. One observes a rash cropping up on one part of the body. These rashes appear on the region of the affected nerve. These rashes also appear on the body, externally. This is a very unpleasant experience as it causes burning sensations and a lot of discomfort to the patient. External shingles are a common occurrence and most of us are aware of this condition. However, internal shingles is a condition that one does not hear about commonly. Internal shingles occur within the body. We shall have a look at the symptoms and treatment for internal shingles in this HealthHearty article.
What are Internal Shingles?
when one gets infected with the Varicella zoster virus, it causes chickenpox in the host. After the host recovers from this condition, the virus is inactivated but not entirely eliminated from the host's system. this inactivated virus relocates to the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain. After a considerable period of time, due to some chemical or environmental factors, the virus gets reactivated, thereby giving rise to shingles. When the virus is activated, it travels down the nerve causing a rash on the affected part. Sometimes, shingles strikes internal organs, as the nerve affected is connected to these regions. This condition is far more serious than external shingles, and can lead to serious complications.
The first indication of internal shingles is the swelling of the lymph nodes. One observes this swelling under the arms or in the groin region. This happens due to the activation of the immune system against the virus. The next symptom includes an unexplained abdominal pain. The stomach becomes tender to touch and one suffers from gastrointestinal disorders. This happens if the gastrointestinal tract is affected by the virus. One may even develop blisters in the mouth and throat. These lesions are very painful and irritating. It becomes very difficult for the patient to eat or drink. Apart from these mild signs, one may develop some serious symptoms.
One of the serious symptoms includes the presentation of Hutchinson's sign. Here, the nerve of the eye is affected and the rash appears on the tip of the nose. Shingles in the eye leads to swelling, vision problems, and even temporary blindness. If one observes the rash on their nose, they should immediately seek medical attention. Another serious symptom is the rash appearing on the face, neck, ear, and mouth. This occurs after the facial nerve is affected. The patient suffers from severe ear pain, hearing loss, dizziness, and even facial paralysis. The condition is luckily temporary, but requires medical attention.
Sometimes, the virus can invade internal body tissues and organs like lungs, central nervous system, as well as the brain. If it affects the lungs, it could lead to respiratory disorders, including pneumonia. When it affects the brain, serious complications such as disorientation, headaches, dizziness, unconsciousness, etc., occur. The viral infection of the brain leads to the development of encephalitis. This complication causes inflammation of the brain meninges and may damage the nerves around the brain. These serious symptoms may lead to life-threatening complications in the patient.
The internal shingles treatment includes the use of anti-virals like acyclovir. This drug inhibits the viral DNA replication and resolves the condition. Other antivirals that may be prescribed include valacyclovir and famciclovir. If a patient develops postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain), then he/she may suffer from persistent pain for many years. Patients may be given antidepressants as well as steroids to manage the symptoms.
Internal shingles takes about 3 to 5 weeks to resolve completely. In most cases, it is cured without any major complications. Children, adults, the elderly as well as immunocompromised individuals may show severe symptoms of internal singles. It is always better to seek early medical help to avoid complications. Thus, make sure you visit a doctor at the first sign of any unusual skin rash.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.