(AscendHealthy.com)- According to the CDC, about one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime. In fact, cases of shingles are increasing. While it was once more common in individuals 40 or older, there is an increase in younger adults developing it. Early treatment is vital to cutting the length and severity of the episode, so it’s best if you can catch it at its first symptoms.
Small Patches of Burning or Tingling Skin
Most people experience burning, tingling, or skin sensitivity before they notice any signs of a rash, which can appear up to a few weeks after the pain. The discomfort, like the rash, usually only affects a short band of skin, typically along the back or trunk, and it rarely affects more than one side of the body. The pain can be intense enough that you may mistake it for a heart attack or some other serious condition.
Some people with shingles report light sensitivity as one of their first symptoms. The sensitivity is similar to that experienced by migraine sufferers. When a shingles rash occurs near the eyes, the first signs can be swelling, redness, or sores on one eyelid. Early treatment in these cases may be vital to prevent permanent eye damage.
For an unfortunate few, the virus interferes with facial nerves, causing Bell’s palsy. This can occur with or without the occurrence of a rash, sometimes presenting as the only symptom. Bell’s palsy causes the muscles on one side of the face to become weakened or paralyzed, marked by stiffness or drooping of the muscles around the mouth and eye. Prompt steroid use can improve your prognosis.
You might feel signs of herpes a zoster infection coming on before the rash develops, the fatigue and discomfort coinciding with a generalized feeling of being unwell. Some people experience fever, while others notice a headache first. If you feel like you’re coming down with something and are experiencing pain or itching on one patch of skin, see your doctor as soon as possible to rule shingles out.
Shingles may be common among unvaccinated adults over 40, but identifying the first symptoms quickly could make your experience a little easier. Antiviral therapies can make a big difference in your pain levels, how long your symptoms last and whether you have any lasting effects. Treatments are most effective if you start them within 72 hours of noticing your first symptoms, so see your doctor ASAP if you suspect shingles may be on its way.
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