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Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

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Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby Britta » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:10 pm

Hi there,
I am new to the forum and briefly wanted to introduce myself. My name is Britta and I am 48 years old and live in Los Angeles. I heard about Dr. Bredesen when he introduced his book at our local bookstore in Manhattan Beach.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers about 10 years ago. He lives in Duesseldorf, Germany. He has been living on his own for many years until 4 weeks ago. Christmas Day 2019 he came to a family Christmas celebration and had a terrible bruise/rash on his eye and forehead. He said a branch fell from a tree and hit him in the face. After two more days the infection got really bad and my mom took him to the hospital. [b]Long story short, he was diagnosed with Shingles (Herpes Zoster opthalmicus) and he was treated in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks (Universitaetsklinik Duesseldorf).[/b] He was very disorientated while in the hospital and my mom had to stay with him. My parents are divorced but get along really well and still spend a lot of time together. Now that he is back home he doesn't recognize my mom anymore, he is lost in his own house, doesn't know his street address and can't remember his occupation of 45 years.
I am aware that these are all common signs with Alzheimer's disease but I have to point out that my dad was living on his own until 4 weeks ago. He did his grocery shopping, cooking, gardening by himself. He was using his iPhone and taking the tram independently. Even though my parents are divorced, my mom was nice enough to take him to the hospital and check in with him for the two weeks. Now she ended up living with him at his house because he is really lost.
Does anybody know if Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (or Shingles on and above the eye) affects the brain of Alzheimer's patients in a different way than normally? His situation got so bad over the short time of 2 weeks, that I have the feeling there must be a relation between the two diseases. If anybody has experienced this before, I would appreciate some input or info on this. And .... is there anything we can do to help him?

Fyi - My mother took him to a functional medicine doctor (with the suggested list of tests in Dr. Bredesen's book). So within the next 2 weeks we will hopefully know more about possible deficiencies he might have.

I went through the primer and stavia's explanations and hope this was the correct place to post this. If not, please let me know and I can remove it and possibly post it at a different location.
Thank you so much,
Britta

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Re: Does Herpes Zoster affect the brain of Alzheimer's patients

Postby PJD@4411 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:27 pm

Britta wrote:Hi there,
I am new to the forum and briefly wanted to introduce myself. My name is Britta and I am 48 years old and live in Los Angeles. I heard about Dr. Bredesen when he introduced his book at our local bookstore in Manhattan Beach.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers about 10 years ago. He lives in Duesseldorf, Germany. He has been living on his own for many years until 4 weeks ago, he was diagnosed with Shingles (Herpes Zoster opthalmicus) and he was treated in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks (Universitaetsklinik Duesseldorf)[/b]. He was very disorientated while in the hospital and my mom had to stay with him. My parents are divorced but get along really well and still spend a lot of time together. Now that he is back home he doesn't recognize my mom anymore, he is lost in his own house, doesn't know his street address and can't remember his occupation of 45 years.

I went through the primer and stavia's explanations and hope this was the correct place to post this. If not, please let me know and I can remove it and possibly post it at a different location.
Thank you so much,
Britta


Hello Britta,
First, I would like to welcome you to the forum. We are so happy to have you join this supportive community.

I am so very sorry to hear about your father. It is amazing that he has done so well after being diagnosed with AD over 10 years ago.

I have a nursing background and have worked with transplant patients for many years. The reason why I am telling you this is because these patients have a compromised immune system induced by medications to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. They are more susceptible to infections such as Shingle's and I have seen many cases over the years. We become very concerned when there is a HZ breakout on the face especially near the eye because there can be brain involvement.

Was there any mention of swelling (encephalitis)?

Experiencing cognitive changes post HZ infection especially where his was located is possible.

This is a tough situation because he also has the underlying AD but his mental status changes seem to be acute and could be related to the current infection. (I am not a physician, this is just an observation based on the information that you have shared).

Your father is so fortunate to have such a loving, supportive family. I hope as time goes on he continues heal and regains some of his memory.

I am so happy you found us! Thank you for sharing your story.

It looks like you have already started navigating this site and have read the Primer. Here are some additional tips that you may find helpful. The Wikki Page has multiple links pertaining to diet, nutrition, and lifestyle behaviors to promote cognitive health and much more!

You may also want to stay connected by joining the facebook group.

Please reach out if you have any additional questions or concerns. I hope that you have found this helpful.

Again a warm welcome, take good care.
PJ
Think Positive Be Positive
Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach

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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby SusanJ » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:21 am

Britta wrote:Does anybody know if Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (or Shingles on and above the eye) affects the brain of Alzheimer's patients in a different way than normally?


So sorry to hear this about your father.

I don't have direct experience with this, but herpes zoster and HSV are certainly linked to AD in several studies, suggesting it could very well worsen symptoms in someone already diagnosed. Here's one paper, and there are others in PubMed.

Increased risk of dementia following herpes zoster ophthalmicus
The high incidence of dementia among HZO patients may be explained by VZV vasculopathy with damage to cerebral neural cells due to cerebral arterial inflammatory and thrombotic responses, which may be a factor leading to dementia [10–16].


Do you know if they used antivirals when he was hospitalized?

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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby NF52 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:53 am

Britta wrote:...Christmas Day 2019 he came to a family Christmas celebration and had a terrible bruise/rash on his eye and forehead. He said a branch fell from a tree and hit him in the face. After two more days the infection got really bad and my mom took him to the hospital. [b]Long story short, he was diagnosed with Shingles (Herpes Zoster opthalmicus) and he was treated in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks (Universitaetsklinik Duesseldorf).[/b] He was very disorientated while in the hospital and my mom had to stay with him. My parents are divorced but get along really well and still spend a lot of time together. Now that he is back home he doesn't recognize my mom anymore, he is lost in his own house, doesn't know his street address and can't remember his occupation of 45 years. ...If anybody has experienced this before, I would appreciate some input or info on this. And .... is there anything we can do to help him?[/b]
...Britta
A warm welcome, Britta,

It is so difficult to be far away from our parents when they suddenly have a health crisis! Please trust that your support to your mother and father are exactly what they need right now, and it doesn't require that you be in Germany.
What you're describing as a sudden change may well be related to the shingles. I wonder if it's possible that the branch that hit him in the head might have caused a concussion, which itself could have contributed to what sounds somewhat like "post-concussive syndrome". Post-hospitalization cognitive confusion is seen in a significant percentage of elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia who are hospitalized.

My mother at age 85 forgot that my father had died 21 years before and asked me for his phone number shortly after congestive heart failure led to a brief hospitalization (in what she thought was a motel). It was jarring and painful, and my heart goes out to you to see this rapid change in your dad. I think that giving ourselves permission to grieve these sudden changes is important. Please also remind yourself how wonderfully your father has maintained his brain and his independence for 10 years--a remarkable achievement!

The hopeful news is that the return to his home with your mother's generous, kind support may result in a return of useful, over-learned daily living skills over the next weeks and months, even if some higher level skills or memories don't completely return. I worked with a clinician who did rehab therapy in a brain injury unit. She taught me how important it is to "scaffold" memory. She introduced herself every time she came in the room, reminded people to look at the daily schedule on the wall, which oriented them to day, date and expected activities, and had photos of important and familiar people with their names and relationship. She also explained that "procedural memory" (how to use a hammer, or throw a ball, or sing a song) often came back faster than specific facts. If getting dressed was important, she would hand them familiar, easy clothing to put on and they might do it even if they couldn't think of the word for "trousers". (No buttons or zippers.) Or she would give a coffee cup to someone and ask them to pour coffee from a carafe. "Backwards chaining" from the end of a task like "making coffee" is often more successful than starting with "measure the coffee into the machine".

In addition to the Bredesen test results, some daily exercise, like walks in the familiar neighborhood, help a great deal. Even among people who are frail, having exercise that raises their heart rate to a "moderate" level of intensity, followed by a recovery period, and then a brisk walk again helps to maintain cognitive function in those with MCI.

Hold onto the idea that this may just be "the new normal for now" and not how your father will be in spring.
4/4 and still an optimist!

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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby Britta » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:06 am

SusanJ wrote:
Britta wrote:Does anybody know if Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (or Shingles on and above the eye) affects the brain of Alzheimer's patients in a different way than normally?


So sorry to hear this about your father.

I don't have direct experience with this, but herpes zoster and HSV are certainly linked to AD in several studies, suggesting it could very well worsen symptoms in someone already diagnosed. Here's one paper, and there are others in PubMed.

Increased risk of dementia following herpes zoster ophthalmicus
The high incidence of dementia among HZO patients may be explained by VZV vasculopathy with damage to cerebral neural cells due to cerebral arterial inflammatory and thrombotic responses, which may be a factor leading to dementia [10–16].


Do you know if they used antivirals when he was hospitalized?

Hi Susan,
Thank you for your reply and the article. It was really interesting to read. I think this is exactly what happened to my dad. The inflammation of the Herpes Zoster must have gone into his brain. The staff at the hospital probably thought that his disorientation was part of the Alzheimers. They didn't know that he was completely different in the weeks before he got sick with Herpes Zoster.

To answer your question: Yes, he got antiviral medicine in high doses. I think it was twice a day through an IV.

He has been home for 2 full weeks now and the first week was devastating. As I told in my first post, he basically lost all understanding of who he was or who my mom was. He though he lived in the US and not in Germany etc ...
Especially in the evenings he was getting really high blood pressure and was restless (and not very friendly to my mom). He was trying to send her home, saying he doesn't know who she is.
The last couple of days, he got a little better. Even though he still doesn't remember A SINGLE THING about the hospital stay and Herpes Zoster, he has been going online to google Herpes Zoster ophthamalicus. My mom has been explaining to him that he was really sick. He now recognizes her again. And he actually asked her who that lady was that had been staying in his guest room the week before. It was of course my mom. But she only said that lady is not coming back, now she would be here. It was heartbreaking to hear that.
Yesterday we facetimed and he recognized me and also his grandchildren. He also spoke to my sister and said that his Alzheimers is getting a lot worse and there will be a day when he won't recognize her. So he is now again aware of his disease and he is really sad about it.

That's the good news within the bad news. He is slowly getting his mind back, just to realize that he is losing his mind.

We have been doing a lot of research and found a German doctor (Dr. Michael Nehls) who also wrote a book on the same approach as Dr. Bredesen. Through Dr. Nehl's website we are trying to find a doctor who can help us with the Bredesen protocol. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby Britta » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:21 am

NF52 wrote:
Britta wrote:...Christmas Day 2019 he came to a family Christmas celebration and had a terrible bruise/rash on his eye and forehead. He said a branch fell from a tree and hit him in the face. After two more days the infection got really bad and my mom took him to the hospital. [b]Long story short, he was diagnosed with Shingles (Herpes Zoster opthalmicus) and he was treated in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks (Universitaetsklinik Duesseldorf).[/b] He was very disorientated while in the hospital and my mom had to stay with him. My parents are divorced but get along really well and still spend a lot of time together. Now that he is back home he doesn't recognize my mom anymore, he is lost in his own house, doesn't know his street address and can't remember his occupation of 45 years. ...If anybody has experienced this before, I would appreciate some input or info on this. And .... is there anything we can do to help him?[/b]
...Britta
A warm welcome, Britta,

It is so difficult to be far away from our parents when they suddenly have a health crisis! Please trust that your support to your mother and father are exactly what they need right now, and it doesn't require that you be in Germany.
What you're describing as a sudden change may well be related to the shingles. I wonder if it's possible that the branch that hit him in the head might have caused a concussion, which itself could have contributed to what sounds somewhat like "post-concussive syndrome". Post-hospitalization cognitive confusion is seen in a significant percentage of elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia who are hospitalized.

My mother at age 85 forgot that my father had died 21 years before and asked me for his phone number shortly after congestive heart failure led to a brief hospitalization (in what she thought was a motel). It was jarring and painful, and my heart goes out to you to see this rapid change in your dad. I think that giving ourselves permission to grieve these sudden changes is important. Please also remind yourself how wonderfully your father has maintained his brain and his independence for 10 years--a remarkable achievement!

The hopeful news is that the return to his home with your mother's generous, kind support may result in a return of useful, over-learned daily living skills over the next weeks and months, even if some higher level skills or memories don't completely return. I worked with a clinician who did rehab therapy in a brain injury unit. She taught me how important it is to "scaffold" memory. She introduced herself every time she came in the room, reminded people to look at the daily schedule on the wall, which oriented them to day, date and expected activities, and had photos of important and familiar people with their names and relationship. She also explained that "procedural memory" (how to use a hammer, or throw a ball, or sing a song) often came back faster than specific facts. If getting dressed was important, she would hand them familiar, easy clothing to put on and they might do it even if they couldn't think of the word for "trousers". (No buttons or zippers.) Or she would give a coffee cup to someone and ask them to pour coffee from a carafe. "Backwards chaining" from the end of a task like "making coffee" is often more successful than starting with "measure the coffee into the machine".

In addition to the Bredesen test results, some daily exercise, like walks in the familiar neighborhood, help a great deal. Even among people who are frail, having exercise that raises their heart rate to a "moderate" level of intensity, followed by a recovery period, and then a brisk walk again helps to maintain cognitive function in those with MCI.

Hold onto the idea that this may just be "the new normal for now" and not how your father will be in spring.


Dear NF52,

Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. This helps a bunch. Now that my dad has been out of the hospital for 2 weeks, he still can't remember that he was ever hospitalized. However with the inflammation going down, his brain is coming back a little bit. He recognizes my mom again and actually asked her who that other woman was, the one that stayed in his guest room last week. It was of course my mom. But my mom only said, that lady is not coming back.
It's interesting that you mentioned the coffee making. My mom asked him to make coffee but then he ended up standing in front of his semi automatic coffee maker and couldn't figure out what to do next. I will send your advice to my mom, so she can start using the approach of backwards chaining.
She has been taking him for walks and he is usually doing a lot better afterwards. So that a good sign.

And we are still on the search for a Bredesen trained doctor or a doctor who is interested to take on the challenge to learn it step by step with us. We found a german doctor (Dr. Michael Nehls) and based on Bredesen he wrote a book on how to overcome Alzheimers. Hopefully we find a doctor through him.

We are taking it day by day!

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Re: Does Herpes Zoster affect the brain of Alzheimer's patients

Postby Britta » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:23 pm

PJD@4411 wrote:
Britta wrote:Hi there,
I am new to the forum and briefly wanted to introduce myself. My name is Britta and I am 48 years old and live in Los Angeles. I heard about Dr. Bredesen when he introduced his book at our local bookstore in Manhattan Beach.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers about 10 years ago. He lives in Duesseldorf, Germany. He has been living on his own for many years until 4 weeks ago, he was diagnosed with Shingles (Herpes Zoster opthalmicus) and he was treated in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks (Universitaetsklinik Duesseldorf)[/b]. He was very disorientated while in the hospital and my mom had to stay with him. My parents are divorced but get along really well and still spend a lot of time together. Now that he is back home he doesn't recognize my mom anymore, he is lost in his own house, doesn't know his street address and can't remember his occupation of 45 years.

I went through the primer and stavia's explanations and hope this was the correct place to post this. If not, please let me know and I can remove it and possibly post it at a different location.
Thank you so much,
Britta


Hello Britta,
First, I would like to welcome you to the forum. We are so happy to have you join this supportive community.

I am so very sorry to hear about your father. It is amazing that he has done so well after being diagnosed with AD over 10 years ago.

I have a nursing background and have worked with transplant patients for many years. The reason why I am telling you this is because these patients have a compromised immune system induced by medications to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. They are more susceptible to infections such as Shingle's and I have seen many cases over the years. We become very concerned when there is a HZ breakout on the face especially near the eye because there can be brain involvement.

Was there any mention of swelling (encephalitis)?

Experiencing cognitive changes post HZ infection especially where his was located is possible.

This is a tough situation because he also has the underlying AD but his mental status changes seem to be acute and could be related to the current infection. (I am not a physician, this is just an observation based on the information that you have shared).

Your father is so fortunate to have such a loving, supportive family. I hope as time goes on he continues heal and regains some of his memory.

I am so happy you found us! Thank you for sharing your story.

It looks like you have already started navigating this site and have read the Primer. Here are some additional tips that you may find helpful. The Wikki Page has multiple links pertaining to diet, nutrition, and lifestyle behaviors to promote cognitive health and much more!

You may also want to stay connected by joining the facebook group.

Please reach out if you have any additional questions or concerns. I hope that you have found this helpful.

Again a warm welcome, take good care.
PJ


Dear PJ,
Thanks so much for your reply and support. It's good to know that we are not alone with this. It's interesting that it seems to be possible to have cognitive changes after HZ. Nobody in the hospital pointed that out to us. Maybe because they thought it's the norm for my dad to be like that. But I feel like my Dad's brain was so inflamed during the virus that he lost some of the abilities he had until then.
I will definitely go ahead and check out the wikki page and facebook group.
We are very interested in the Bredesen Protocol but haven't found a doctor in Duesseldorf, Germany yet.
There is an institution in Freiburg which is in the south of Germany but nothing close to Duesseldorf but we are not giving up yet. :-)
Xoxo
Britta

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Re: New here? Some Best Practices

Postby PJD@4411 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:11 am

Hi Britta,

So happy to have connected with you!

You are doing an outstanding job following your intuition and taking a deeper look. You will find many helpful options as you continue to explore lifestyle behaviors, nutrition, and other methods that promote cognitive health

Hope is so powerful, stay strong!

I will be thinking of you and sending prayers and warm blessings to you and your family.

Please keep in touch.
XO
PJ
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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby xactly » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:45 am

Britta wrote:Does anybody know if Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (or Shingles on and above the eye) affects the brain of Alzheimer's patients in a different way than normally?
Britta

This is anecdotal (n=2), but my mother and my mother-in-law (both APOE4 carriers) presented symptoms of dementia within days or weeks of their respective first outbreak of shingles. We don't know if they had any memory loss or cognitive problems prior to their first episodes because we are geographically dispersed and only spoke to them by phone with occasional in-person visits. After the onset of shingles, family members began noticing differences in behavior. Both were treated with antivirals, but neither had been vaccinated for shingles.

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Re: Can Herpes Zoster ophthalmicus (Shingles) affect the Alzheimer's brain?

Postby NancyM » Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:26 pm

My father also seemed to suffer cognitively with the onset of shingles, and that was shortly before he was diagnosed with AD. It made enough of an impression on me that I decided to get the shingles vaccine recently even though I tend to avoid other vaccines due to the fear of toxins.


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