Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that is not yet curable. As of today, only the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be treated.
What causes Parkinson’s disease varies from patient to patient. However, certain risk factors seem to play significant roles in the development of this progressive neurological condition.
Usually, people with Parkinson’s disease are seniors. It is rare to see a young person have Parkinson’s disease.
And the same could be said about the condition known as shingles. Shingles is a condition caused by the same virus as chickenpox, and it often occurs around or after middle age.
Although shingles and Parkinson’s disease seem far off from each other, some people wonder if getting shingles can trigger Parkinson’s disease.
So, can shingles trigger Parkinson’s? Below you’ll find an overview of the latest evidence on whether there is a link between shingles and Parkinson’s disease.
Can Shingles Trigger Parkinson’s?
The short answer is that shingles does not necessarily cause Parkinson’s disease. Let’s look at some key studies on shingles and Parkinson’s disease to see what the evidence indicates.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a medical condition caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Many people who had chickenpox in childhood are at risk of shingles because the virus stays dormant within their bodies.
Early signs of shingles include severe pain or tingling, an itchy rash, and blisters that appear nearly identical to those of chickenpox. It is caused by the virus known as the herpes virus.
Much like Parkinson’s disease, this condition is incurable. But symptoms of shingles can be treated. And there are vaccines for it too.
Risk Of Triggering Parkinson’s
The thing about shingles and Parkinson’s disease is that the evidence does not show much of a connection between the two. That said, some evidence indicates a minimal relationship between these two medical conditions.
According to the results of studies, people over 65 with herpes zoster are at higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. In this study, respondents were divided into two groups; the group of people with herpes zoster and those without. Both groups are aged 65 or above.
The study concluded that there are more incidences of Parkinson’s disease in people diagnosed with herpes zoster or shingles. This means that people with shingles may be more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those without.
But that is not just the numbers. There is also an explanation as to why Parkinson’s disease is more likely in people diagnosed with herpes zoster or shingles.
According to this study, there is increasing evidence that inflammation and immunological changes play a significant role in contributing to neuron death in Parkinson’s disease, in which activation of microglia and other immune cells at sites of neuronal injury is detected.
With Parkinson’s disease, the cells mentioned above can cause chronic inflammation. This then leads to the progressive degeneration of substantia nigra or the nerve cells responsible for the creation of dopamine.
So, shingles or herpes zoster does not trigger Parkinson’s disease. However, it is suggested that having shingles can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.