If you have had Covid-19, be aware of localized and unexplained pain (may have shingles)
If you have been infected in recent months, experts warn: be aware of the possible signs of this disease.
If you have already been infected with Covid-19, you should be aware of the possible symptoms of shingles. The pathology can be caused by the coronavirus responsible for the infection, concludes a study published on May 5, 2022 in the “Open Forum Infectious Diseases of the Infectious Disease Society of America”. The results are based on clinical records containing medical claims, prescription drugs, and outpatient laboratory results.
The study looked at adults over the age of 50 (using information from two large databases collected in the United States) and compared those infected with SARS-CoV-2 with those who were not infected, taking into account different risk factors for Herpes Zoster. a condition better known as shingles.
The main findings reveal that those who became infected with Covid-19 were 15 percent more likely to develop the disease than people who had never been infected. The risk of developing shingles is considered high for six months after the diagnosis of the virus infection.
The finding is valid even for people who have had less severe or asymptomatic forms of coronavirus infection. However, the probability of contracting this infection is higher because the symptoms of Covid-19 were more severe.
What is a zone?
It is a viral infection caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains dormant in the body after the initial infection. It is a disease that usually occurs only in people who have had chickenpox in the past and often decades after the patient has been exposed to the virus.
“Although it is usually a self-limiting rash, it can be stronger with a lot of accompanying pain, which can last from weeks to months,” Ana Teresa Boquinhas, an internal medicine specialist at CUF Tejo, told NiT.
According to the doctor, the symptoms start with seemingly inexplicable pain and are limited to one area of the body, ie along the dermatome – the area of skin where all the sensory nerves come from one nerve root – followed by two to three days for eruption. “Physical findings include bubbles, with a clear liquid, grouped in a red base. They are usually very painful. “Fever can also occur, especially if the lesions are extensive,” he explains.
Spread occurs mainly in people with weakened immune systems. The most common complication is pain that lasts for more than four weeks in the affected areas, after the skin lesions have healed.
Wounds can also affect the eyes. In these cases, the person should be examined by an ophthalmologist, in order to detect changes early and avoid serious eye consequences. The diagnosis of this condition, according to the health worker, is basically based on the clinical picture.
Although it is usually the result of the immune system failing to maintain the latent replication of the varicella virus, there are other factors that contribute to shingles – exposure to sunlight, physical trauma, certain medications, other infections and stress. . Teresa Boquinhas stresses that “you need to rule out related diseases that lead to low immunity, such as HIV”.
There is no cure for this area, but there is a vaccine to prevent it.
The internal medicine specialist confirms to NiT that “there are drugs, including antivirals, that have been shown to be safe and effective in treating active disease and preventing associated pain.” However, the diagnosis must be made quickly, because medication “should be administered within 72 hours after the onset of symptoms”says the doctor. Other drug interventions can also be used to control pain using corticosteroids, analgesics, and antidepressants.
Recently, a vaccine arrived in Portugal, specially designed to overcome this decline in immune function and help protect people as they age. It is administered intramuscularly in two doses to adults over 18 years of age.
This is the first herpes zoster inoculation that combines an inanimate antigen with an adjuvant specifically designed to activate a strong and targeted immune response of the varicella-zoster virus or VZV. In a few words, Teresa Boquinhas explains that “it is” indicated for the prevention of herpes and related neuralgic pain, in adults over 50 years of age. ”
This is a sign of hope, because: “almost all adults over the age of 50 have this virus hidden in their body. The natural decline of the immune system associated with aging can allow the virus to reactivate, causing shingles. ” Those who have a suppressed or compromised immune system are also more likely to develop the disease.