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How do you test for shingles?

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Although the shingles virus is present in the nerve tissue of anyone who has had chickenpox, there is no way to predict shingles before symptoms begin to appear, reports WebMD. Shingles is more likely to occur in those with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, those who take immunosuppressive drugs, and those with medical conditions such as lymphoma, leukemia and HIV, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The first symptoms of shingles may be a headache, sensitivity to light and flu-like feelings but often without fever, states WebMD. Next come itching and pain on one side of the body, usually followed by a rash and blisters. Some people experience the pain only without a rash, and in some people the rash does not erupt into blisters. Although most people only get shingles once, sometimes people get it a second and even a third time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prompt treatment is imperative when shingles symptoms begin to show, or long-lasting internal and external complications may develop, warns WebMD. One of the most common complications is ongoing pain known as postherpetic neuralgia that may linger for months or years. Complications to the cranial nerves may cause internal pain and inflammation and threaten eyesight, hearing and movement of the facial nerves. The localized blistery shingle rash may spread throughout the body and affect internal organs.

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