There is a connection between shingles and infection

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From: carolina gehrman

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A study shows the connection between corona and an increased risk of shingles. What does a pathogen have to do with chickenpox and what are the symptoms.

Bremen – It is well known that a corona infection can have serious consequences like Long Covid. The level of suffering is often enormous: “brain fog” often makes everyday life more difficult for a long time after the long Covid. And some even experience depression after Long Covid. But an infection with the corona virus can also lead to another unpleasant disease – shingles.

The connection between corona infections (from BA.2.75 to XXB to BQ.1.1, there are currently many omicron variants) and the onset of the painful skin disease was confirmed in an American study.

Why is it so, what does a chickenpox pathogen have to do with it, and what are the symptoms.

US study proves connection between corona infection and shingles

The news about the corona virus and how to deal with it is currently a bit mixed, even if the list of possible late effects of a Covid 19 illness seems to be getting longer. Although some federal states such as Schleswig-Holstein or Bavaria want to abolish the obligation to isolate corona-infected people, experts in many places warn of a severe corona pandemic winter, triggered above all by the highly contagious omicron variants and in constantly expanding such as BA.2.75, the so-called “Hellhound” BQ.1.1 or the newer XBB variant. The risk of contracting Covid-19 is high, especially now that it is getting colder again in the fall and winter. Many people are also at risk of reinfection; the risk increases depending on the omicron virus variant of the initial infection.

After corona infection: According to study, the risk of shingles increases by at least 15 percent

With shingles, another disease is now apparently part of the long list of possible consequences of a corona infection. American scientists led by Amit Bhavsar from the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline found a clear connection between the two diseases corona and shingles. According to the study, the risk of shingles increases by 15 percent in people older than 50 years. According to the researchers’ findings, age is a decisive factor for the appearance of the skin disease, but also the severity of the Covid 19 disease.

After a severe corona course with hospitalization, the risk increases by even 21 percent. For the new study, which was published in the specialist journal “Open Forum Infectious Diseases” and sheds light on the connections between a corona infection and shingles, the researchers evaluated the health insurance data of around 1.6 million people. regarding the question of whether after increased incidence of shingles due to corona disease.

Connection between corona and shingles: responsible for the pathogen of chickenpox

However, it is not the coronavirus itself that is responsible for the skin disease, but another virus: the varicella-zoster virus. Most adults carry it because it also causes chickenpox, a highly contagious infectious disease. Most older people were not vaccinated as children and have had chickenpox at some point in their lives.

Computer illustration of a chickenpox pathogen
The chickenpox virus is called varicella zoster, and it can still cause shingles decades later if the immune system is weakened. © Science Photo Library/IMAGO

The insidious thing about chickenpox, the “childhood disease,” however, is that the viruses remain dormant in the body, even after the acute illness has passed. To some extent, it “sleeps” in nerve knots, for life. A person’s immune system normally ensures that it cannot harm anything. However, if this weakens, such as with a corona infection, then the varicella-zoster virus can break out again and attack in the form of shingles.

There is an increased risk of shingles in people over the age of 50, often shortly after a corona infection.

The medical term for shingles is herpes zoster. The data evaluated in the study showed that the disease often appeared a week after the Covid illness, in some even shortly after. Those affected then struggled with two diseases: Corona and shingles. However, the skin disease can also occur with a delay. According to the study, eight to ten weeks later. The risk does not normalize again until six months after the corona disease.

Corona-Shingles Connection: Weakened Immune System Is The Key

Since the immune system is severely affected by a corona infection, the immune cells are severely depleted – the body’s defenses are “weak”. Even when the disease has passed, it often remains so. And so, in addition to Long Covid and Co., there are often shingles. Immune cells are simply no longer able to keep dormant varicella-zoster viruses in the body under control. Pathogens become active again and multiply.

Shingles symptoms often appear shortly after infection with Corona

Symptoms of shingles that can occur after a corona infection are fatigue, headaches, and often fever. Noisy aponet.de The reactivated pathogens “migrate” along the neural pathways to the skin, where they cause pain and typical rashes and blisters. Usually, only the nerves on one side of the body are affected, so the rash often only appears as a band on one side.

First, there is pain in the affected areas, the skin is extremely irritated and sensitive. Reddening of the skin occurs for a day or two, which then turns into blisters. At the latest now, a doctor’s office should be consulted, because antiviral (virostatic) drugs that fight the varicella-zoster virus must be taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. Common pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol help against pain.

Shingles usually heals after four weeks, but serious complications are possible.

Shingles usually heals after four weeks. The blisters then heal and the immune system regenerates. However, complications can also occur if the pathogens have also affected areas of the head, such as the eyes or ears. Then hearing or vision problems may remain. About 15 to 20 percent of shingles patients develop aloud Approach also a so-called postherpetic neuralgia (PZN), that is, permanent nerve pain in the nerve pathways along which pathogens have moved. This can manifest as constant pain or pain attacks, often for many months.

Shingles vaccination recommended for people over 60 years of age

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko) of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommends vaccination against herpes zoster for everyone over the age of 60 so that, in the best case, shingles does not occur in the first place. It is covered by health insurance companies. The inactivated vaccine can normally be administered by the family doctor. It is recommended that people with previous diseases such as diabetes or asthma get vaccinated from the age of 50.

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