Protects Yourself From Shingles

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Protect yourself from shingles

If you contracted chickenpox as a child, there is a one-in-three chance the virus will be reactivated as shingles. The chickenpox virus remains in your nervous system and can reemerge at any time, without warning, for no known reason.

Unfortunately, there is no way to determine who will develop shingles, when it may occur, or how long it will last. Studies have shown that shingles most commonly occurs in those ages 60 and older, and that the rash, resulting complications, and long-term nerve pain may increase in duration and severity based on the age when shingles emerges.

Initial signs of shingles may include itching, tingling, or burning as a red, blistering rash begins to develop on one side of the body where the nerves from the spinal cord connect with the skin. One in four adults who develop shingles will experience complications including scarring, skin infection, muscle weakness, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing. The painful, itchy rash may last up to 30 days, and can be compounded by long-term nerve pain that has been described as shooting, stabbing, throbbing, or burning.

Adults age 60 and older can significantly reduce their risk of developing shingles by receiving the Zostavax vaccine. Typical side effects may include mild swelling, soreness, or redness at the injection site, but the protective benefits far outweigh the minimal inconvenience and the potential consequence. If you do develop a mild form of shingles in the future, the vaccination is likely to decrease or prevent the severity of nerve pain that typically accompanies the virus.

More than one million cases of shingles are diagnosed each year in the United States. Don’t be one of them. Contact the Farmington Valley VNA at 860-653-5514 for more information about the shingles vaccine and to schedule an appointment.