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Getting A Shingles Vaccine – Is It Right for You?

Be sure to ask your health care provider about getting a shingles vaccine for you or your loved ones.

I remember when my grandfather was still living in his home and he came down with a bad case of shingles. It was so painful for him and required tender loving care. Luckily, we were able to have a nurse come in and help my grandpa with his medication, as well as have our family members take turns.

Shingles is a painful rash on the body also known as herpes zoster, which appears in a band, small strip, or concentrated area on the body. Usually shingles will show up on the right or side of your torso but can also develop on your neck, back, shoulder or face.

Shingles are caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox is susceptible to shingles. However, shingles are not contagious like chickenpox. There is a small chance that a person who has a shingles rash can pass the rash on to someone who has not had the chickenpox vaccine or not already had that childhood ailment.

The reasons why the virus stays dormant in the body and then reappears later in life is still being studied. However, scientists believe that a weakened immune system due to illness or disease and certain medications can reactivate the virus in the body, causing shingles.

Everyone can get shingles, however, most cases are reported in people over the age of 60.

If you suspect you have shingles, you should see your doctor right away. Some of the signs and symptoms of shingles are a painful rash on one side of the body and itching or tingling in the rash area. It’s possible to have these symptoms before the rash appears. The pain can also be on the face and neck.

Other possible symptoms can be fever, chills, upset stomach and a headache. These are also symptoms of other conditions, so sometimes shingles can go undetected, which is why it’s important to seek out medical help.

There is an antiviral medication that can be used once shingles are diagnosed. The medication can help reduce the symptoms and severity of the condition. However, there is also a vaccine that is approved for patients over the age of 50 (for patients between 50 and 59) to reduce the likelihood of developing shingles.

Researchers have found that patients who are vaccinated have about a 50 percent reduced chance of getting shingles. If you think you are a candidate for getting a shingles vaccine, consult your medical provider.

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