Complications of Untreated Shingles

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of every three people will come down with shingles in their lifetime. Each year, an estimated 1 million people suffer from the painful nerve condition. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you’re susceptible to shingles.

Here at Ohio Institute for Comprehensive Pain Management in Centerville, Ohio, triple board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management expert Mervet Saleh, MD,  answers some frequently asked questions about shingles and addresses the complications that can arise if it’s left untreated.

What are shingles?

Shingles are a derivative of the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox in your lifetime, the varicella-zoster virus was responsible. After you recover from it, the virus resides in your nerve cells indefinitely. For some people, later in life, the virus reactivates in the form of shingles. 

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The symptoms of shingles typically affect one side of your body and include:

Shingles most often appear on your stomach, chest, back, or above one eye.

Are shingles contagious?

Shingles are not contagious, but you can pass the virus to someone who hasn’t had chickenpox. If your shingles outbreak is in the blister phase, you’re in the most contagious phase of the illness. If at all possible, consider staying in so that you won’t pass the virus to others.

What problems can arise if I don’t treat shingles?

If you develop the telltale shingles rash, we encourage you to seek care right away. If left untreated, you can experience some serious long term problems, such as:

Of particular concern, according to the American College of Cardiology, having shingles propels your risk for a heart attack by 59% and your risk for stroke by 41%

What are the treatment options for shingles?

At the first signs of shingles, make plans to see Dr. Saleh for comprehensive care. She’ll confirm the diagnosis and customize a treatment plan that may include pain relievers and specialized antiviral drugs, steroid injections, numbing compounds, nerve blocks, and local anesthetic injections. 

If you think you have shingles, turn to the compassionate team at Ohio Institute for Comprehensive Pain Management to help you minimize the symptoms and shorten your shingles outbreak. Call for an urgent appointment or book your appointment quickly online.

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