You may not recall having chicken pox as a child but your body might. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This tricky virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for decades until one day, it reactivates and travels along the nerve pathways to your skin where it produces a painful rash known as shingles. Not everyone who had chickenpox will suffer shingles but many will. The National Institute on Aging says that about one in three Americans will develop shingles. Understanding some of the issues surrounding this painful condition may help you avoid developing shingles.
In most cases, shingles occurs in a single stripe on one side of the face or body. Some other symptoms include a fever, headache, chills or upset stomach. Before the rash appears, people will often experience pain, itching or a tingling sensation in the area where the rash develops. The rash looks like a series of blisters that can be painful. Shingles on the face requires special attention since the virus can affect vision and lead to vision loss. In most cases, the rash is gone in two to four weeks but some people have pain that lasts for months even after the rash is gone. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia and is caused by damaged nerve fibers sending messages of pain from your skin to your brain. Other neurological issues can occur following shingles including a loss of balance or hearing.
People who are over 50 are at a higher risk of developing shingles. The risk increases with age and it is estimated that about half of people over 80 will have shingles. Risk also increases for people with diseases that weaken the immune system like cancer. In many cases, people who are under a lot of stress are also more prone to develop shingles.
A person with shingles can spread the disease through the blisters. The virus is spread through direct contact with the fluid from the blisters, so covering the rash is a good idea to reduce the chances of spreading the virus. Be cautious around children, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems when the blisters are present so that the virus is not spread to them.
If you suspect that you are developing shingles, contact your doctor as soon as possible. There are some anti-viral medicines that can treat and shorten the severity of the illness. These medications are most effective if taken as soon as possible after the rash appears. There are also medications available to relieve the pain from the rash. Home remedies like wet compresses, oatmeal baths and calamine lotion can help with the itching.
The best defense is an offense when it comes to shingles. There are two vaccines available that will prevent shingles. The zoster vaccine live was introduced in 2006 but the preferred vaccine recommended by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices is a recombinant zoster vaccine known as Shingrix. This vaccine has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and remains 85% effective for four years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine requires two doses spaced two to six months apart. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine even if you never had chickenpox. Recent studies have shown that 99% of Americans who are 40 or older have had chickenpox. Many of these people don’t remember having chickenpox so instead of trusting your memory, get the vaccine to be safe.
Protecting your health
One of the risk factors for developing shingles is a weakened immune system. When you undergo surgery or a medical event, your body’s ability to fight off infections can be compromised. It is therefore a good choice to take precautions to avoid being exposed to shingles and other illnesses during these times of recovery.
One of the best ways to take care of your body’s needs is to choose to recover at a post-hospital rehabilitation center like Glenview Terrace where a team of experienced professionals can meet your needs with acclaimed one-on-one therapy and effective care. You can rest assured that your immune system is being given every chance it needs to do its job to keep you healthy. Guests who choose Glenview Terrace can count on round-the-clock, individualized care. A team of professionals including a nurse practitioner, a rehabilitation nursing manager and multiple therapists work together to assure the fastest and safest recovery possible. Each day, the Glenview Terrace staff makes sure all physical and emotional needs are met from appropriate therapy services in a cutting-edge therapy gym to compassionate care for pain and other medical needs.
A stay at Glenview Terrace is all about you and your needs. Thoughtful extras for rehabilitation guests include morning coffee and newspaper delivery as well as concierge services as needed. The beautifully landscaped grounds with a spacious patio and tranquil fountain provide both an elegant and calming environment for recovery.
For the best recovery outcome, choose the best with Glenview Terrace. For additional information or to arrange a tour, visit glenviewterrace.com or call 847-729-9090.