Dealing With Shingles

Dealing With Shingles

Shingles is sometimes looked at as the adult version of chickenpox, but it is really a different illness altogether, despite the point that it comes from the same source. Medical science to this day does not know the reason that the herpes zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, goes dormant and then emerges much later in life as shingles. But that’s what it does.

On the other hand, most people also do not realize that chickenpox can cause serious, even lethal symptoms. Most people, of course, survive chickenpox, so they remember the illness for its annoying rash and the fact that they survived. Chickenpox, like shingles, is not seen as extremely threatening. But both of them can be.

Chickenpox, for example, can lead to lung infections, uncontrolled bleeding, bloodstream infections that can be life-threatening, and dehydration. Shingles, the adult version, can show up as a rash that can be painful. But serious complications include the possible loss of hearing and blindness. It can also result in nerve damage. Call 619-333-8114 for immediate care.

Vaccinations

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone over 50 years of age get vaccinated for shingles. As it is associated with age, the older you get, the more likely you are to come down with shingles. Vaccinations, meanwhile, reduce the chance of getting shingles by 90 percent, so it is not always effective.

There are exceptions. The CDC selectively says do not get the vaccination if you have an autoimmune disorder, such as HIV/AIDS. Similarly, anyone whose immune system is compromised by chemotherapy treatments should also not be receiving the vaccination.

Shingles

An estimated 99 percent of Americans had chickenpox as a child, which makes the potential for coming down with shingles very prevalent. If you come down with shingles, you will normally first notice it for its telltale rash and the tingling sensation in your limbs

Frequent Symptoms of Shingles

  • A painful, burning, or tingling sensation
  • Rash made up of fluid-filled blisters
  • Itchiness, often resulting in tearing open blisters
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue

Contagious or not?

Technically, shingles is not contagious. However, the virus that causes shingles, the herpes zoster virus, is very contagious. Passing the virus to someone who has not had chickenpox is a distinct possibility. Shingles, however, will not develop until much later.

Postherpetic neuralgia

Slightly over 10 percent of people with shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia, which can be experienced as extreme pain that can last for weeks, months, or years. Postherpetic neuralgia pain can be debilitating. Neuralgia is a medical term covering any type of nerve damage.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for shingles include:

  • Increased risk after reaching 50 years old
  • Weakened immune system,
  • Medications increase risks, including organ transplant anti-rejection medications and steroids if used for a long period of time.

Seeking Help

In San Diego, call Pacific Medical Care at 619-333-8114 for an appointment for any unexplained rash or pain that may come from a case of shingles. Anyone over 50 is advised to get vaccinated to reduce the chances of coming down with shingles.

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