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Shingles and Headaches
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Lori561 posted:
I have shingles on the right side of my face (bridge of nose, around eye, forehead, hairline and even my cornea). It has now been almost 2 weeks and my face is clearing up as well as my cornea...I am no longer on medication, Valtrex, but continue to use eye drops. However, I continue to have throbbing pain and constant headaches. I was doing well the last 2 days, but last night my head became more sensitive (like a sunburn on my scalp) and caused my ear to ache. This morning it was kind of the same and I seem to be more sensitive to light. My question is, is it normal to have "flare ups" after starting to feel better? And how long does it normally take to stop having the nerve pain in the eye and headaches? (I do realize worst case I could have headaches from now on). Thanks!
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DUKE MEDICINE
Timothy Collins, MD responded:
Nerve pain after shingles can take several weeks to entirely resolve. There are GDA approved medications for the pain (Cymbalta and Lyrica) and gabapentin can work as well.

The pain in shingles is from injury to the nerves that the shingles virus (chickpox virus) has damaged. Nerve pain tends to increase and decrease unpredictably for many patients (and night time seems to be worse for most patients with nerve pain).

Talk with your doctor about medications for this pain, you may need to suggest a referral to a neurologist or pain specialist.
 
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Lori561 replied to Timothy Collins, MD's response:
Thanks Dr. Collins. Things seem to be improving a little, but now having bouts of depression and no energy (completely unlike me). Someone suggested Olive Leaf Extract capsules. Would you recommend this as a energy booster? I'm not one to take medication "freely"....mainly just when absolutely necessary. I did some research on it and it seems pretty good (it even mentioned shingles). So just curious of your thoughts on this. Also, I do have Vicodin and it seems to work pretty well when really needed. Thanks again!
 
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DUKE MEDICINE
Timothy Collins, MD replied to Lori561's response:
Anthing that is a stimulant could actually make your pain worse (not a common side effect, but still something to consider).

I haven't been able to find an actual study showing that olive leaf extract can help shingles or pain. Its marketed as an anti-oxident, and test tube experiments suggest that it can kill some bacteria and fungus. For pain, this should be considered "unproven" medicine since there are no studies.

One of the medications I suggested (Cymbalta) is frequently used for the symptoms you describe, including improved sense of energy, as well as helping depression.

Walking for 20-30 minutes per day has also been shown in a clinical trial to be just as effective as an antidepression medication (for depressed patients).
 
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SharonS2013 replied to Timothy Collins, MD's response:
I have been having expisodes of a throbbing headache, dibilitating in fact, on the back of my head, on a daily basis for the past two weeks. I have never experienced anything like this before and have not been able to receive a valid explanation from anyone in the medical profession. Is there anyway this could be related to shingles, but just not showing the rash?


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