If you’re like most people, you probably think of shingles as a painful rash that can occur anywhere on your body. However, did you know that shingles can also cause swelling in the abdomen?
This is because the varicella-zoster virus, which causes shingles, can also affect the abdominal organs. In rare cases, this can lead to serious complications such as abdominal pain, fever, and even death.
So if you’re experiencing
What are shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The virus that causes shingles, the varicella-zoster virus, is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your nerve tissues for years. Shingles occurs when the virus becomes active again. People with shingles often have burning and tingling sensations on one side of their body several days before a painful, blistering rash breaks out. The rash typically lasts two to four weeks. Shingles can occur at any age, but it is most common in people over 50 years old. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles.
There is no cure for shingles, but there are vaccinations and treatments available to help ease the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.
What causes shingles?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your nerve tissues. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
There’s no known cure for shingles or chickenpox, but there are treatments that can help relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
Signs and symptoms of shingles may include:
-Sensitivity to light
How can shingles be treated?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your nerves for years. But it can reactivate later in life and cause shingles.
Shingles cannot be passed from person to person. However, a person who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine can get chickenpox from someone with shingles. This is more likely to happen if the person with shingles is a child younger than 13 years old.
There is no cure for shingles, but there are treatments that can help relieve the pain and other symptoms. Antiviral medicines are the most common type of treatment and can make an attack shorter and less severe. Other treatments include pain relievers, cooling lotions, and corticosteroid injections.
What are the complications of shingles?
Shingles can cause complications, such as:
-Bacterial infection of the skin
-Eye problems, such as inflammation of the cornea (herpes zoster ophthalmicus) or inflammation of the iris and retina (iritis or retinitis)
-Permanent scarring of the skin
-Loss of vision
-Neurological problems, such as encephalitis, meningitis or Bell’s palsy
-Pain that persists for more than three months after the rash has gone (postherpetic neuralgia)
Can shingles cause swelling in the abdomen?
There is no known direct connection between shingles and abdominal swelling. However, some of the symptoms associated with shingles, such as fever and pain, can occasionally lead to bloating and swelling in the abdomen. In rare cases, the virus that causes shingles can also lead to inflammation of the digestive tract, which can cause abdominal pain and swelling. If you experience any abdominal symptoms along with your shingles, be sure to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
How can I prevent shingles?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent shingles, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
-Get the shingles vaccine. This is recommended for people over 50.
-Avoid close contact with people who have shingles.
-Don’t share items like towels or razors with someone who has shingles.
-Wash your hands often.
-Stay clean and dry.
What should I do if I think I have shingles?
If you think you might have shingles, it’s important to see your GP or go to your local minor injuries unit as soon as possible.
Shingles is usually only a mild illness and most people get better within two to three weeks. However, it can be more serious in some cases.
You should see your GP if:
- You’re over 70 years old
- You have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS
- The pain is severe
- The rash is spreading rapidly