Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems

What are Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems?

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. It usually occurs in adults who have already been previously infected with chickenpox and can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

Types of Shingles GI Problems

  • Gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) Irritation: Shingles can cause inflammation and ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Liver Damage: In some cases, shingles can cause damage to the liver, resulting in jaundice, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
  • Perforation or Rupture of the Bowels: Shingles can sometimes cause perforation or rupture of the bowels, which can be a serious and life-threatening complication.
  • Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Shingles can also cause bleeding from the GI tract, which can be life-threatening.
  • Bowel Obstruction: Shingles can sometimes lead to a complete blockage of the bowels, requiring surgery.

Symptoms of Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems

Common symptoms of shingles GI problems include:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Fatigue

Diagnosing Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems

Your physician will begin by taking a complete medical history and physical exam. They may then order tests such as blood tests, CT scans, endoscopic examinations, and biopsies to determine the extent of the shingles infection and the presence of any gastrointestinal problems.

Treatment for Shingles Gastrointestinal Problems

Treatment for shingles GI problems will depend on the severity of the infection and the extent of the damage. Options can include antiviral medications, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, and, in some cases, surgery. Your doctor will recommend the best course of action.


Shingles can present a variety of gastrointestinal problems, ranging from mild irritation to life-threatening complications. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms associated with shingles. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further complications.

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