Healthy Tips for Seniors: Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a shingle stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. The reason for shingles is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older.
Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems.
Shingles is caused by the Varicella-Zoster Virus. This iss thee same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may become reactive as shingles. The virus that causes chickenpox and shingles is not the same virus responsible for cold sores or genital herpes.
- The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body.
- Pain, burning, numbness or tingling.
- Sensitivity to touch.
- A red rash that begins a few days after the pain.
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over.
- Sensitivity to light.
A person with shingles can pass the Varicella-Zoster Virus to anyone who isn’t immune to chickenpox. This usually occurs through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Once infected, the person will develop chickenpox, however, not shingles.
Chickenpox can be dangerous for some people. Until your shingles blisters scab over, you are contagious and
should avoid physical contact with anyone who hasn’t yet had chicken or the chickenpox vaccine, especially people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns.
Factors that Increase Risk of Developing Shingles Are:
- Being older than 50: Most common in people older than 50. The risk increases with age.
- Having certain diseases: Diseases that weaken your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and Cancer.
- Undergoing cancer treatments: Radiation or Chemotherapy lowers resistance to diseases.
- Taking certain medications: Prolonged use of steroids such as prednisone and transplant drugs.
Complications from Shingles Include:
Postherpetic Neuralgia: Shingle pain continues after the blisters have cleared from damaged nerve fibers.
Vision Loss: Shingles in or around the eye cause painful eye infections can result in vision loss.
Neurological Problems: Can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, hearing or balance problems.
Skin Infections: If blisters aren’t properly treated bacterial skin infections may develop.
- Chickenpox Vaccine: (Varivax): Varicella vaccine has become a childhood immunization to prevent chickenpox and is recommended for adults who’ve never had chickenpox.
- Shingles Vaccine: (Zostavax): Protects agains shingles for about five years. It’s a live vaccine given as a single injection, usually in the open arm.
- Shingrix: Offers protection beyond five years. A nonliving vaccine and is given in two doses, with two to six months between doses and recommended for people 50 and older.
The most common side effects of either shingles vaccine are redness, pain, tenderness, swelling and itching at the injection site and headaches. While it isn’t a life threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
As with the chickenpox vaccine, the shingles vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get shingles, but the
vaccine will likely reduce the course and severity of the disease.
To assist with Shingle prevention, Senior Allegiance has partnered with Randalls Phamarcy to provide the Shingles vaccine for those who HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED THE VACCINE.
If you would like to receive the vaccine, please contact Senior Allegiance to sign-up.
We will require your health insurance information for billing purposes.
Also always remember to consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
For more Information, call Karina Walker, DON, at Senior Allegiance at 713-975-1519
This independent living in Houston community is fortunate to have the expertise of a nurse from a home health care Houston company, Senior Allegiance Home Health, to advise assisted living Houston residents on best care practices. Click www.treemont.com/blog to view more Healthy Tips for Seniors.