Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Shingles - A Concern As We Age

Usually thought of as a childhood disease, chickenpox can have lasting effects well into adulthood because the virus remains inactive in the body even after recovery. Years after you have had the chickenpox, the virus can reappear in the form of shingles. Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body and symptoms can last for several weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 1 out of 3 people in America will develop shingles during their lifetime. Your risk increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women that are 60 years old or older. It is recommended that people 60 years of age or older to get vaccinated against this painful disease.

For people who have had chickenpox, shingles is not contagious. However, someone who has not had chickenpox and who has direct contact with the shingles rash could contract chickenpox, not shingles.

One of the first symptoms of shingles is pain, which can sometimes be mistaken for other issues (depending on the location of the pain). Typically, a rash appears after the onset of pain, but some people may experience the discomfort of shingles without developing a rash.

Other signs of shingles may include:
· Burning, numbness, tingling or sensitivity to touch
· Fluid-filled blisters
· Itching
· Fever or chills
· Headache
· Upset Stomach

There is no cure for shingles, but there are a variety of treatment options that can make symptoms less serious. Pain medicine may help relieve the pain caused by shingles. Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may also help relieve some of the itching, but please visit your healthcare provider promptly if you have symptoms of shingles. This is especially important if you experience pain or rash around the eye, if you are 70 years or older, if you or someone in your family has a weakened immune system or if the rash is widespread and painful.

Some people experience complications from shingles if they do not receive the right treatment. Shingles around the eye can cause painful infections and vision loss. The disease can also damage nerve fibers causing pain even after the disease is gone. If shingles blisters are not treated properly they can become infected.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect shingles. For more information, visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html

- submitted by Brenda Barnes, Communications Office, Hendry-Glades Health Department

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