Shingles

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The day before yesterday Nanook got a phone call from her sister Beans (affectionate name).  Beans has been suffering in pain for about four days.  She was leaving the ER when she called, “I got shingles.”  At least we got a diagnosis.  I knew shingles can be very painful and it is somehow related to chickenpox, but that’s all I knew.  So I logged-onto webmd.com to find out more.  What follows is information about shingles courtesy of webmd.com.

What is shingles?   It’s a skin rash caused by a specific virus (I’ll omit the Latin term).   It’ll appear in a band, a strip, or a small area on the body on (this is weird) one side of the body.  It is most common in older adults with weakened immune systems.  This could be those who are suffering from stress, injury, some medicines, etc.  Most will get over it and, (here is the good news) most (BUT NOT ALL) will not get it again.  It’s a nasty virus.

What causes shingles?  Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus reappears.  If you have had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in your nerve roots.  Sometimes it “wakes up” and causes shingles when the immune system is weakened.  Shingles enflames the nerve endings, hence the pain.  The reawakened virus causes shingles, not chickenpox.  It (shingles) is not contagious, i.e., you cannot catch it from someone else.  However, there is a remote chance it can spread the virus (not the disease) to another who has not had chickenpox, or who has not been vaccinated for chickenpox.

What are the symptoms?   The symptoms happen in stages.  It may start with a headache or sensitivity to light.  You may feel like you have the flu, but without running a temperature.  You’re weak, or have long-term pain or rash on your face.  It can also affect your vision, your thinking, or your rash may spread.  If you have these symptoms, CALL YOUR DOCTOR NOW.

How is shingles treated?  You doctor will treat you with anti-viral medicines and pain medication.

Who gets shingles? THIS IS IMPORTANT.  Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.  Chances of getting shingles rise if you are over 50 or you have a weakened immune system.

Can I prevent shingles?  A shingles vaccine is available for folks over 50.  It reduces (not eliminate) the chances of getting shingles and reduce long-term pain that can occur after shingles.  Even if you have been vaccinated and you get shingles, the vaccine will reduce the pain and heal the rash more quickly.   Call your doctor for a script for the vaccination.  Nanook and I had ours done at Walgreen’s.  I understand it is available at CVS also.  Check with your doctor or pharmacy.

By the way, Nanook talked to Beans last evening, and she is almost back to normal thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

Have you or a loved one had shingles?  Pease share.  Our readers are interested in your story.  And thank you Webmd.com.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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