Shingles: The ‘intense’ sign that can be ‘mistaken’ for something else – how to spot

Shingles: Symptoms and effects of virus

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Shingles are triggered by the varicella-zoster virus. While this name might not ring any bells, this is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve had the childhood disease, the virus lies inactive in your nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the culprit can reappear as shingles.

As medicine works best when taken within the first three days of your symptoms, being able to identify the early signs, including an “intense” symptom, could help.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the “first” symptoms of shingles is pain.

Some people can experience a really “intense” pain, making the condition tricky.

What’s worse, this sign can also be “mistaken” for symptoms of other health conditions affecting the organs like the heart or lungs.

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Although shingles is characterised by a tell-tale rash, sometimes only the pain linked to this sign appears without your rash developing.

Other sensations that can appear alongside shingles pain are burning, numbness or tingling.

While pain is the first pointer to the condition, there are also other symptoms that could ring the alarm bells.

From itching to fever, shingles can present various warning signs.

According to the health portal, the full list of symptoms linked to the viral infection includes:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue.

The signs and symptoms usually crop up only on a small section of one side of your body.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of your torso.

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“Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.”

The NHS advises getting advice from 111 “as soon as possible” if you suspect having the condition.

It’s crucial to act promptly because you might need medicine to help aid your recovery and avoid long-lasting problems.

The health service explains that medicine will work best when taken within the first three days of your symptoms.

One of the most “common” complications of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia.

This causes the pain from your shingles to last for much longer.

Luckily, shingles vaccination could help cut your risk of developing the infection. This jab is available on the NHS for people in their 70s.

The immunisation can help make your symptoms much milder.

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