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The five shingles misconceptions

The five shingles misconceptions

Contrary to popular belief, shingles doesn’t exclusively affect the elderly. Shingles can be a dangerous condition that can affect anyone who has ever had chickenpox. But, having shingles is still a possibility even if you don’t recall getting chickenpox (you might not have had “real chickenpox” or you might have received the live chickenpox vaccination).

The varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, is responsible for the skin rash known as shingles. Although the rash can appear anywhere on the body, it typically clusters around the chest, back, or belly. The pain from the disease can last for much longer than the rash, which can endure for weeks or even months.

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Anyone can develop shingles. These are a few widespread misunderstandings concerning this condition

The most typical symptom of shingles is pain, though it can differ from person to person. Additional signs can include:

  • Before the rash appears, tingling, itching, or burning
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • uneasy stomach

The rash typically lasts two to four weeks and might cause scars that are permanent. In some instances, shingles can also result in side effects like pneumonia, hearing loss, and blindness.

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Myth 1: Shingles only affect seniors

Regardless of age, everybody who has ever had chickenpox or received the live chickenpox vaccine as a kid is susceptible to developing shingles. It’s a frequent belief that only elderly people experience shingles, but Stanley Martin, MD, director of Geisinger’s Division of Infectious Diseases, explains that this is just wrong.

While the likelihood of getting shingles rises with age, it can also strike anyone at any age. In actuality, more young adults are now receiving shingles diagnoses in recent years. The majority of shingles cases, according to Dr. Martin, occur when people don’t have any underlying immune system defects. “A compromised immune system exponentially increases the risk for shingles, and stress itself can be a contributor,” he says. In other words, healthy people are susceptible to this, but risk increases with advancing age, stress, and compromised immune systems.

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Myth 2: Shingles cannot be spread

The virus that causes shingles can spread to people who have never had chickenpox, despite the fact that shingles cannot be given from person to person. Direct contact with the rash or with the fluid from the blisters can both transmit the varicella zoster virus. If this occurs, they will have chickenpox rather than shingles.

It’s crucial to understand that even if a person has had chickenpox, they may still experience shingles in the future, according to Dr. Martin.

Chickenpox is extremely contagious, and adults who get it later in life are more likely to develop complications including pneumonia.

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Myth 3: Shingles are not common

Around one in three persons may experience shingles at some point in their lifetime. The illness can strike anyone who has ever had chickenpox. The chickenpox and shingles-causing varicella zoster virus can remain dormant in the body for years before reactivating and resulting in a painful rash.

Being vaccinated against shingles can help stop the virus from reactivating if you have previously had chickenpox but not shingles. The shingles vaccine is advised for healthy people 50 years of age and older by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Myth 4: You can only get shingles once

Typically, shingles only occur once in a person’s lifetime. It is possible to have it more than once, though.

Stress, illness, and specific drugs are a few things that can cause the virus to reactivate. If you’ve already had shingles, having the vaccine can help those with compromised immune systems avoid experiencing another epidemic.

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Myth 5: Shingles are not harmful

Particularly in older persons, shingles can be a painful and disabling disorder. Even though the majority of shingles sufferers recover within a few weeks or months, certain significant problems can happen. They include vision loss and postherpetic neuralgia, which is a chronic discomfort that can linger for months or even years.

In extremely rare circumstances, shingles can also result in pneumonia, brain inflammation, hearing issues, or even death. Because of this, it’s critical to get medical attention if you believe you could experience severe shingles-related consequences.

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The duration and severity of shingles can be reduced, as well as other consequences, with early antiviral treatment, according to Dr. Martin.

Complications

Among shingles complications are:

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  • neuralgia following shingles. Some patients experience shingles pain well after the blisters have healed. The name for this condition is postherpetic neuralgia. It happens when injured nerve fibers cause pain signals to travel from your skin to your brain in a jumbled, excessive manner.
  • sight loss. Ophthalmic shingles, often known as eye shingles, are painful eye diseases that can impair eyesight.
  • neurological conditions. Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, hearing loss, and balance issues are all potential side effects of shingles.
  • infected skin. If shingles blisters aren’t properly treated, bacterial skin infections may develop.

Prevention

A shingles vaccination could aid in shingles prevention. The Shingrix vaccination, which has been accessible in the US since the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2017, should be obtained by those who are qualified. Although the Zostavax vaccination is no longer offered in the United States, it may still be used in other nations.

Whether or whether they have ever had shingles, persons over the age of 50 are approved for and advised to use Shingrix. The Shingrix vaccine may also be given to those who have already received the Zostavax shot or who are unsure if they have ever had chickenpox.

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Those with compromised immune systems brought on by illness or medication, who are 19 years of age and older, are also advised to take Shingrix.

A nonliving vaccination created from a virus component is called Shingrix. It is administered twice, with a two to six-month interval between each dose. Redness, discomfort, and swelling at the injection site are the most typical side effects of the shingles vaccine. Other side effects include fatigue, headaches, and others.

Even after receiving the shingles vaccination, you could still develop shingles. Yet, it is likely that this vaccination will lessen the disease’s course and severity. And it’ll probably reduce your chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia. According to studies, Shingrix provides shingles prevention for a period of more than five years.

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If any of the following apply, discuss your immunization choices with your doctor:

  • have experienced an adverse reaction to any shingles vaccination component
  • possess a compromised immune system as a result of a disease or medicine
  • have had stem cell transplantation
  • Are expecting or trying to conceive

The only purpose of the shingles vaccination is to prevent shingles. Those who already have the condition are not supposed to be treated with it.

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