Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The rash typically appears on one side of the body and is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. While shingles primarily affects the skin, it can sometimes cause complications that affect other parts of the body, including the lungs.
Shingles can sometimes affect the lungs in a condition called herpes zoster pneumonitis. This occurs when the virus affects the lining of the lungs, causing inflammation and swelling. Symptoms of herpes zoster pneumonitis may include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever. This condition can be serious, particularly in people with weakened immune systems, and may require hospitalization.
In addition, shingles can also lead to postherpetic neuralgia, a condition where the pain from the shingles rash persists even after the rash has healed. This pain can sometimes be located in the chest or rib area, and may be mistaken for lung-related pain.
It’s important to note that while shingles can affect the lungs, this is a relatively rare complication. Most people who develop shingles will experience the typical symptoms of a painful rash and will not develop any lung-related complications.