Are Shingles Herpes?
Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Both chickenpox and shingles are infections caused by a virus that belongs to the herpes family. Clinically, shingles and herpes are two different diseases.
The transmission mode of shingles is different from herpes. Shingles and herpes are infections caused by viruses that belong to the herpes family. Shingles is therefore a form of herpes virus. The virus behind chickenpox and shingles infections is known as herpes zoster.
The most common types of herpes infections most people know are genital herpes and oral herpes. Herpes zoster is a virus that belongs to herpes family and it’s the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
The herpes family is made of 25 types of viruses and herpes zoster is one of them. A number of herpes virus family members are viruses known for causing infections.
The two main members of herpes virus family that cause a viral infection known as herpes are herpes simplex virus-1 and herpes simplex virus-2 or HSV-1 and HSV-2. The other virus known as herpes zoster causes chickenpox and leads to a shingles attack later in life. Herpes and shingles are very common types of infections.
Herpes viruses are known to cause what is called latent infection to the body after being in a dormant state for long. Only certain conditions can reactivate a herpes virus lying in a dormant position like it is with herpes zoster which can lay dormant in nerve cells before causing shingles.
Some of the conditions that can lead to activation of a dormant herpes virus include trauma, depression, accidents and stress. When the immune system becomes weak with time, the risk of being attacked by shingles also increases.
That’s why older people who have already suffered from chickenpox are normally advised to eat a balanced diet and take the right medication to deactivate herpes zoster virus further.
HHV3 or varicella zoster is a type of herpes virus that is known to cause shingles. First time exposure to varicella zoster virus does not cause shingles but it causes what is known as chickenpox.
Recovering from chickenpox infection is however not a guarantee that HHV-3 virus is no longer active. This virus stays dormant in nerve cells and becomes active later in life to cause what is known as shingles.
Shingles and Herpes: What is the difference?
The answer to whether shingles and herpes are the same baffles many people. These two infections are caused by different viruses belonging to the same family of origin.
So they actually have something in common, which in this case is the fact that they share an origin. For those who leave this explanation shallow and fail to dig deep to find the real difference, end up getting convinced that shingles and herpes are the same.
These two infections are different in a unique way even though they are genetically related because they are caused by almost similar antigens. They are sometimes differentiated using signs and symptoms of each.
Some of the symptoms of shingles include discomfort, fever, headache and itchiness of the affected area. The itchiness caused by herpes zoster is a different form of itchiness because it comes in form of a sharp pain in the affected area. This is the most common symptom that can be used to diagnose shingles.
The moment herpes zoster virus gets activated it embarks on immediate damaging of neural channel. This virus damages nerves located along its path to cause excruciating pain which can be felt in the abdomen, chest and face. This pain can sometimes get confused with a cardiac problem but a deep checkup will definitely identify herpes zoster as the cause.
The pain caused by nerve damage as a result of herpes zoster virus varies from person to person. However, this pain becomes more excruciating among the aged compared to the younger population suffering from a similar viral infection.
The reason behind people’s vulnerability to varicella zoster virus has not been explained in a detailed manner by scientists so far. According to different scientific findings, people get affected by varicella zoster virus depending on the following factors:
- Level of the immune system of an individual: Herpes zoster virus affects individuals with weaker body immunity more than individuals with stronger immunity.
- Age: older people above 60 are more vulnerable to varicella zoster virus than children. This is because once the virus becomes dormant it requires time to become active again.
- Gender: According to scientific findings, women are more vulnerable to varicella zoster attacks than men.
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