Shingles, a condition also known as herpes zoster, stems from the same virus the causes chickenpox. This virus, the varicella-zoster virus, lies dormant in your nerves and may then flare up, typically in older adults or people with a compromised immune system. Caffeine does not cause shingles to occur, but, in theory, some of caffeine’s effects could contribute to a shingles flare-up. Understanding the condition and the connection will help you talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention.
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The initial symptoms of shingles typically begin with pain or tingling on your skin. This occurs on only one side of your body and in a localized area such as your back, face, stomach or chest. As shingles progresses, you will have a bright red, patchy rash that forms blisters. Shingles may also affect your eye, causing blurred vision and discomfort. Additionally, you may experience symptoms other than a visible rash or pain. These symptoms include headache, fever, stomach pain, swollen glands and joint pain. You may also experience difficulty moving the muscles of your face or have difficulty with eye movements.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in a variety of foods, beverages and medications such as pain relievers and cold medicines. Consuming caffeinated products does not have a known, direct connection to a shingles to flare-up. However, caffeine could increase your anxiety level, which may intensify the stress factors in your life. This could result in shingles. This condition may only occur once and then not reappear again. However, in a number of shingles sufferers, flare-ups continue to occur. If you have recurring shingles and consume a significant amount of caffeine throughout the day, you and your doctor may discuss gradually reducing your caffeine intake to determine if this helps reduce the frequency of your flare-ups.
If you have shingles, your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication to help reduce the duration of your condition. You may need additional medications for pain relief and to help reduce inflammation. Eye involvement may require eye drops to help clear the infection and inflammation in the eye.
Contact your doctor at the first signs of shingles. Prompt treatment can often help reduce the duration and intensity of your symptoms; using eye drop promptly for eye-related shingles may help prevent permanent scarring that could result in permanent vision loss. If your doctor recommends reducing your caffeine intake, you should gradually eliminate caffeinated products. This will help prevent withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability.