For a woman in Canada, it all started with a feeling of weakness in her left leg and then in her lower back. Later, a rash on her skin made her feel like small needles were stabbing her.
Lorena Rosati works for CTV News and she has experienced the pain caused by shingles. She said that she couldn’t walk for a few days from the nerve pain: “It was in my back and then traveled down my leg as well, so sitting all day was extremely uncomfortable and I had some trouble sleeping at night.”
When she went to visit her doctor, he said that she had shingles. But the disease is less common in young people, and Lorena Rosati is 36 years old.
Each year in Canada, there are 130,000 people that develop the disease. The Canadian researchers and the U.S CDC have noticed that in the last few years, the numbers have increased, but they don’t know why.
People that had chickenpox risk to develop shingles, because the varicella-zoster virus that caused chickenpox can remain dormant in the body, even if chickenpox cleared. The virus remains until the immunity system wears it off. In some cases, the virus reactivates as shingles, which is a painful rash that looks like a stripe on the body, usually on the trunk. It’s a mystery why the virus reactivates only in some people, but the risks increase with age.
A Weak Immune System Or High Levels of Stress Can Cause Shingles
Some young people can develop shingles because their immune system is weak or they are under high levels of stress.
It’s important to check a medic, says Dr. Lynora Saxinger, infectious diseases expert at the University of Alberta Hospital:
“If you start treatment for it, you can reduce the severity and reduce the risk of going on to a pain syndrome that can sometimes be prolonged. You can actually improve your chances of healing well by getting therapy early.”
There are 10-15% of people with shingles that develop severe pain where the rash occurs, with a pain that can go for weeks and months. To shorten the illness and to prevent the pains in the postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), Dr. Saxinger said that patients receive antiviral medications.
However, shingles could be triggered by other diseases:
“Shingles in a younger person could be a sign of another underlying health condition. So if you get shingles, it might be worth having a check-up to make sure you don’t have another health condition that hasn’t been recognized.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere