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Shingles Symptoms: Nausea

author image Molly McAdams
Molly McAdams is a writer who lives in New York City. She has covered health and lifestyle for various print and online publishers since 1989. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition.
Shingles Symptoms: Nausea
Shingles Symptoms: Nausea Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

People who come down with shingles, which is actually the reoccurance of chicken pox, often mistake their initial symptoms for the beginnings of a flu. In addition to headache, fever and chills, nausea is a common symptom that can occur during the prodromal, or first stage of shingles, several days before the signature rash appears.

Warning Sign

It makes sense that nausea often precedes and accompanies shingles, because the urge to vomit is a common way for the body to react when any infection is present. The flu-like symptoms announcing the onset of shingles may continue as the virus becomes active and the accompanying rash turns into painful blisters. Whether you are receiving medical treatment for shingles or just waiting to see what surfaces, there are steps you can take to diminish the unpleasant feeling of nausea.

Coping with Queasiness

Most people who feel nauseous get some relief from laying down. Avoid rich or fatty foods, dairy products, cigarette smoking, alcohol and aspirin or other medications that might upset your stomach. A very empty or very full stomach can increase the feeling of nausea. Try to avoid being in the presence of foods with strong aromas that might aggravate the feeling of nausea.

Stick to very small servings of bland, high-carbohydrate foods, such as banana, rice, applesauce, and toast or soda crackers. Sip clear fluids, such as water, broth or herbal tea, often between and during meals. It sometimes helps to suck on ice pops or chips of ice. If you are already taking medication to treat the virus and feeling nauseas, speak to your doctor about this and any other side effects you feel.

Ginger has been shown to help some people with nausea due to motion sickness, chemotherapy and pregnancy and is traditionally used as a digestive aid and to help alleviate general stomach upset. Ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger supplements and even ginger snap cookies might give you some relief.

You're Not Contagious

In the first stages of shingles, when you may start to feel nauseous, but don't yet know why, the virus is not contagious. Even while active, the virus is not airborne at this point, and shingles cannot be spread simply by being in the same room with someone who has it.

It is only when the blisters appear, and if they break, that shingles can spread, and then only through physical contact. If this happens, the person in contact with the virus might develop chicken pox if she's never had it or never been vaccinated against it. Shingles only develops in people who have previously had chicken pox.

Seniors can speak to their doctors about Zostavax, the single-dose vaccine that appears to reduce the risk of developing shingles by 50 percent in people age 60 to 69 for up to four years, although less so in older men and women. The vaccine can be taken at the same time as a flu vaccine.

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