What is Shingles?
If you have had chickenpox, the virus responsible is called the varicella-zoster virus. To contract shingles, this virus must already be in your system because it is responsible for both diseases. One-third of all people living in the U.S will contract this disease. The estimate is one million people contract this virus every year. If you have had chickenpox, you can get disease regardless of age, but the condition is the most common among people aged 50 and over.
Although the most prominent symptom is a rash, one-third of all people with shingles do not develop a rash. When you initially had chickenpox, your symptoms most likely included body aches, runny nose, and fever. Once you recovered, the virus remained hidden in your body among your neurons or nerve cells. According to studies, the virus is most likely to hide in a specific type of neuron located in your upper body called ganglions. This neuron controls pain in your face, chest, and upper body. The varicella-zoster virus can remain hidden for numerous years. Once reactivated, the virus starts to reproduce, then travels to your skin using your sensory nerve fibers.
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