According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime. Shingles is a painful viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the very same virus that causes chickenpox. The reason for this is that the virus never completely leaves the body, instead, it remains inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain and years later it may reactivate as shingles.
What do you need to know?
- Most cases of shingles occur in people who are over 50 and the risk continues to increase as you get older.
- A weakened immune system may also put you at higher risk.
- Shingles can cause severe pain. The most common symptom is a painful skin rash that usually appears on either side of your torso or can affect the trigeminal nerve around and over the eye. The rash and accompanying symptoms can last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks and unfortunately for some, the pain can last for months, or even years, after the rash goes away. Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common complication of shingles, affecting approximately 10-15% of shingles cases. Integrative treatments that can help ease the pain of PHN include acupuncture, medications, stress reduction techniques, and IV therapy.
- You can get shingles more than once. If you have had shingles you should not assume that you will not have it again!
- In 2017, the Food & Drug Administration approved a new, more effective vaccine called Shingrix. This new vaccine is reported to be more than 90% effective when taken as recommended according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is a far higher effectiveness rate than the old vaccine, Zostavax. For maximum effectiveness, the vaccine is given in two shots, 2-6 months apart.
Who should get the vaccine?
Adults over 50 years old who:
- have had chickenpox or can’t remember if they have had chickenpox
- have already had shingles
- have already been vaccinated with the Zostavax vaccine
If you meet the criteria above or have questions about the vaccine, talk to your primary care physician right away. Getting vaccinated will significantly reduce your risk of getting shingles and the complications that it may cause.
If you have questions about the Shingrix vaccine or if you are not sure if you are a good candidate, ask them if it’s right for you. You can also visit https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/index.html for more information from the CDC.
If you currently have shingles and would like to talk to a nurse about our treatment protocol, call us today at 703-532-4892.