Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems!
Gastrointestinal Problems Associated with Shingles
Shingles is a common virus affecting nearly one million Americans each year. The virus is extremely painful, lasting for several weeks and limiting daily function. In addition to the physical pain and discomfort associated with shingles, some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal problems.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common gastrointestinal symptoms associated with shingles include:
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea can occur as a result of shingles, and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal pain: Abdominal pain is often felt around the area of the rash. The pain may be sharp and stabbing or more of a dull ache.
- Bloating: Bloating can occur when the abdomen fills with gas, causing it to become tight and uncomfortable.
- Loss of appetite: Loss of appetite can occur due to nausea and abdominal pain.
In order to diagnose gastrointestinal problems associated with shingles, a doctor will do a physical exam and take a detailed history. Blood tests may be needed to rule out other reasons for the symptoms, and a stool sample may be taken to check for bacteria or parasites. In some cases, an imaging test such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI may be necessary to determine the cause of gastrointestinal problems.
Treatment for gastrointestinal problems associated with shingles will depend on the cause of the symptoms. However, some general measures may be effective in helping reduce the discomfort. These include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.
- Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eating smaller, more frequent meals may also be helpful.
- Avoiding foods that are known to irritate the digestive system, such as spicy or greasy foods.
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
- Avoiding stress and getting plenty of rest.
- Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Speaking to a doctor about prescription medications if the symptoms are severe.
If the symptoms do not improve or become worse with the above treatments, it is important to seek medical help. Some complications of shingles can be serious and may require hospitalization. With appropriate treatment, most individuals are able to fully recover from the virus and the associated gastrointestinal symptoms.