By Audrey A. Lewerenz-Walsh, MD –
Shingles is a disease that causes a painful skin rash and can lead to severe pain that can last for month or even years after the rash goes away. In addition to a painful rash, shingles can lead to other serious complications, including eye problems, as well. Many patiens suffering with Shingles describe the pain as excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing, and shock-like. The intense pain has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones. Ongoing pain caused by shingles can lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss. It is often common for the effects of shingles to interfere with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, shopping and traveling.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body n a dormant state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles.
Almost one out of every three people in America will develop shingles. Age increases the risk of developing the condition; about half of all diagnosis is among aged 60 years or older.
VACCINATION REDUCES YOUR RISK OF GETTING SHINGLES.
The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, the long-term pain that can follow shingles, is to get vaccinated. Adults age 60 years or older can receive a single does of the shingles vaccine. The older a person is, the more severe the effects of shingles typically are, so all adults 60 years old or older should get the shingles vaccine.
There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine. Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease. This simply means that just about everyone over the age of 40 is a candidate for developing shingles.
Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your health care provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.
To date, no serious problems have been identified with the shingle vaccine. The most common side effects in people who got the vaccine were redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the shot site, and headache.
For more information about the shingles vaccine call 941-748-8069.