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What Are Shingles?

If you ask your physician he will explain that shingles is a disease related to chicken pox and individuals that had chicken pox at some point in their lives are more prone to developing a case of shingles. The virus that causes chicken pox is also responsible for shingles. In many individuals, the virus for shingles is dormant and resides in clusters of nerve tissue. The affliction typically affects the elderly.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, "one out of every three people in America will develop shingles." Other statistics released point to the fact that individuals aged 60 or older have a 50 percent chance of contracting shingles. A shingles vaccine is on the market and adults who had chicken pox should receive the vaccine. While shingles is not typically fatal, the disease causes intense pain and that can impact quality of life. Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in an area which leads to a feeling of burning pain and tingling
  • A rash which usually comes after the sensation of pain. The rash usually manifests on the stomach area
  • Fluid-filled blisters


Can You Prevent Shingles?
The shingles vaccine, administered one time, can help prevent the virus. Individuals 50-years-old or older who have had chicken pox should receive the vaccine. The virus can be transmitted if you come in contact with someone who has "active lesions." If you have never had chicken pox, you can catch it from someone who has shingles; however, you cannot catch shingles.


Individuals should avoid the shingles vaccine if they've had an allergic reaction to neomycin or other ingredients in the vaccine. Those with immune deficiencies or undergoing cancer treatments or certain prescription drugs could cause an interaction with the drug. It's always best to check with your doctor prior to getting vaccinated.


To prevent transmission of the shingles virus it's crucial that those with the shingles blisters keep them covered and you need to avoid direct contact with the blisters. Frequent hand washing, not scratching or touching the blisters will also help prevent transmission. Once the blisters have healed, the Centers for Disease Control explains, they are no longer contagious.


While there are treatments for shingles and medications that can lessen the pain, it is best to avoid catching. The vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of shingles by more than 50 percent.

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