Is There Such A Condition As Internal Shingles?
Most of us have heard about shingles, but any reference to internal shingles seems to be somewhat of a seldom thing. Shingles can affect anyone who has had chickenpox earlier in life, and while severity of its symptoms can vary, it is generally an unpleasant disease to have to put up with.
Most accounts of shingles deal with the effects as felt on or near the surface of the skin. These symptoms are usually in the form of rashes and lesions, accompanied by a good deal of pain. The question then is, if there is indeed such a condition as internal shingles, what are its symptoms? Obviously we're unlikely to be able to view images of these symptoms as we can with external shingles.
The Shingles-Chickenpox Relationship - Whether we're discussing common shingles or internal shingles, the relationship between the diseases and chickenpox is very real. As was noted at the opening, only people who have had chickenpox are susceptible to shingles. The virus causing chickenpox has gone into dormancy and may or may not at some later time re emerge in the form of shingles. Shingles is not as contagious as chickenpox but during certain phases of the disease, especially when skin rashes are first appearing, the disease is somewhat contagious. Curiously, if someone does become infected by a person who has shingles, that individual will not come down with a case of shingles, but will come down with chickenpox instead! One good thing about shingles, external or internal is, if you get it and get over it, it will never return.
The symptoms of internal shingles, just like the symptoms of external shingles, can be difficult to diagnose. That is to say, any specific symptoms could easily be due to something other than shingles. For this reason, shingles is not always caught at an early stage. While there is no specific cure, there are treatments, and the condition usually goes away by itself after a period of a few weeks. A vaccine against the disease has recently been introduced.
Symptoms And Effects - The symptoms of internal shingles can vary from mild to severe. In most instances, the affected person soon returns to normal health as the symptoms disappear. In some cases however, internal organs may be damaged, sometimes permanently, resulting in disabilities and in rare cases, death. Damaged nerve fibers for example, can cause pain to be felt throughout the body, even at the slightest touch. The gastrointestinal system can be attacked by the virus, with the patient experiencing stomach upset or abdominal pain. Blisters or lesions in the mouth or throat can be not only painful, but may make eating or swallowing difficult. Swelling in certain areas of the body can occur, especially in the lymph nodes of the neck. This is not directly caused by shingles, but by the immune system's response to the presence of the shingles virus. Internal shingles can be debilitating if the virus attacks the nerves of the ears or the optic nerves, affecting hearing and sight, and potentially causing loss of hearing or blindness in one or both eyes. Perhaps the most dangerous form of internal shingles is if the virus attacks the area of the brain, causing inflammation (encephalitis), which can be life threatening.
Summary - It's usually been considered a good thing to have gone through the usual cycle of childhood diseases, knowing that once we've had one or more of them, we're unlikely to get a repeat performance. In fact, these same childhood diseases can be much more dangerous if contracted by adults, so in getting them early, we've given ourselves a dose of built-in immunity. Shingles, including internal shingles, doesn't follow the general rule. Having had chickenpox doesn't make you immune to shingles, it makes you susceptible. Fortunately shingles is, if not rare, a somewhat uncommon disease.