Epilepsy Medication For Shingles Treatment

Shingles is caused by the dormant chicken pox virus known as herpes varicella-zoster becoming reactive in the nervous system; this leads to an attack on the nerve endings and causes pain and a rash which appears as a band following the route of a nerve. There are around 250,000 cases of shingles in the UK each year and the virus can affect any part of the body. Cases in children and young adults are fairly rare with people over the age of 50 making up two thirds of all cases.

There is no cure for the virus and doctors generally rely on the use of medication to control the symptoms, epilepsy medication for shingles treat is one form of medication that is used when a patient suffers from prolonged and severe pain.

Why use epilepsy medication for shingles treatment?

Epilepsy drugs are known as anticonvulsants, they are commonly used to control the seizures suffered by epileptic patients. They work by stabilising nerve activity in the brain and block the neurons that cause seizures, this leads to a dulling in the senses of the nerve endings so that a seizure cannot be triggered. It is the anticonvulsants ability to dampen down the nerve senses that benefits shingles sufferers.

A GP will prescribe anticonvulsants to reduce the number of times that neurons fire and therefore reduce the amount of pain being felt in the affected area.

Anticonvulsants on GP prescription

Epilepsy medication for shingles treatment in the form of anticonvulsants is available only on prescription. The medication is not used in every case of the virus and is generally only warranted when the level of pain is severe. The most commonly used anticonvulsant is Gabapentin and it will be prescribed in a lower dose than what is used in epilepsy cases. The GP will generally start a shingles patient on a low dosage which can be actively increased until pain is effectively managed.

While anticonvulsants are effective in managing the pain felt in shingles, they do not help to treat the virus, for this reason GP’s will often prescribe antiviral drugs to be taken alongside the anticonvulsants. Antiviral drugs will help to reduce the severity of the virus and also stop it from multiplying; they are also beneficial in lowering the risk of complication as a result of shingles.

Drawbacks of anticonvulsants

Using epilepsy medication for shingles treatment is not always beneficial and there are certain drawbacks to anticonvulsants. Gabapentin can take up to several weeks before any effects of the medication are felt and you will generally need to take a fast-acting painkiller to take away the pain until the benefits are felt. It is also not recommended on patients that have suffered from other serious medical conditions in the past. Unlike other painkilling medication, anticonvulsants will take a substantial period of weaning to get a patient off the drug, there are also various side effects that will occur as a result of taking the medication, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhoea
  • Swollen ankles




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