Let’s talk about shingles

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Did you know that if you’ve ever had chickenpox, you’re at risk of developing shingles at some point in your life? That’s because both infections are caused by the same virus – varicella-zoster. According to mayoclinic.org, shingles is more often seen in older adults, and chances are you probably know someone who’s had it. Here’s what you need to know about this painful and relatively common infection.

What is shingles?

Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is an infection that can cause pain, burning and a rash that typically appears on one side of your body. As mayoclinic.org explains, “Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.” Shingles can also affect areas of your face – again, typically on one side.

What causes shingles?

When someone has had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus can stay in their body in a dormant state for years – and down the line, it may ‘reactivate’. According to webmd.com, “In some people, the virus wakes up and travels along nerve fibres to the skin. The result is a distinctive, painful rash called shingles.”

Factors that put you at greater risk of developing shingles include age and a weakened immune system. The US National Institute on Aging states that, “About half of all shingles cases are in adults age 60 or older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70.”

What are the symptoms?

According to Health24.com, the early symptoms of shingles can include a headache, feelings of fatigue, pain and an itching or tingling sensation on a specific area of your body. This is typically followed by a rash consisting of small blisters.

Can shingles be prevented?

There are vaccines available that can help reduce your risk of developing shingles. For those who’ve never had chickenpox, there’s a chickenpox vaccine. And for those who’ve had chickenpox, a shingles vaccine is available.

Can they be treated?

If you think you may have shingles, visit your doctor right away. While there’s no cure for the infection, starting treatment quickly can help manage the symptoms and lower the risk of complications. Shingles usually lasts for about three to five weeks.

It starts with outstanding healthcare

Continuing care is part of our Partnership for Life promise at Evergreen Lifestyle Villages. And while we can’t predict the future, our friendly, experienced nursing staff are always available to help residents manage it whether in one of our specialised frail care centres or in the comfort and familiar surroundings of their homes.

Sources:
Mayoclinic.org
Webmd.com
Health24.com
Nia.nih.gov