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What is Shingles and why every senior citizen must get vaccinated against it?

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What is Shingles?

Shingles is a painful rash illness, which sometimes leads to long-run nerve pain.

Shingles can be very uncomfortable and the pain may last for years, even after one recovers from the rashes.

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of varicella zoster virus (the same virus that causes chicken pox), which lays dormant for many years within the body, ready to pounce. If somebody has had chicken pox, the virus remains within the body and as one grows older, the virus can reactivate again and can cause shingles.

The virus is kept under control by the body, but it never fully goes away and it lives in our nerves.

But as we tend to age, our immune system becomes weak and we are put at a higher risk of this virus and it reactivates in the form of Shingles.

If you are fifty or older and healthy, two things you should know:

  • you are at a risk of getting shingles
  • you should get vaccinated

Symptoms of Shingles?

Shingles affects the nerves. The common symptoms include:

  • burning
  • shooting pain
  • tingling
  • itching
  • rash with fluid-filled blisters
    • The blistery rash usually seems toappear on one side of the body, sometimes in a single band around the right or left side of the torso. The rash can also appear on the face and around eyes. Vision loss can occur if it affects the eyes.
    • Once the rash is gone, many people suffer from severe nerve pain in the area wherever the rash existed, a complication called as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
    • PHN lasts for months, typically ninety days or more and generally for many years.

Who’s more at risk of shingles?

The risk factor for Shingles increases as one gets older. Unfortunately, the symptoms get worse with age. 

The rash can be extremely painful, such that the sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their garments touching the affected skin.

Shingles vaccine and why you need it?

Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends shingles vaccine for everyone over the age of 50, for the prevention of shingles and connected complications, 

Shingles vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and related nerve pain.

Studies suggest that shingles vaccination provides at least a decade of protection against the disease.

Vaccination can be taken by an individual irrespective of the fact whether one has had shingles or not. 

Although some individuals may develop shingles after getting vaccinated, the duration & severity of symptoms reduces and it also reduces the risk of PHN.

Dosage for Shingles vaccine:

You need 2 doses of Shingles vaccine. The second dose is 2-6 months after you get the first dose.

Health professionals should be consulted concerning your vaccination choices if you:

  • have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the component of the shingles vaccine
  • have weakened immune system because of any health condition or medication
  • have has a stem cell transplant
  • are pregnant or planning for the same

Side effects of Shingles vaccine:

  • redness at the site of the injection
  • swelling at the site of the injection
  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • nausea 

Overall, the Shingles vaccine is well tolerated. Side effects with the vaccine are transient and generally wears off within 1-2 days. Serious side effects are rare.

Should i take the Shingles shot?

Anyone who is 50 or above should take the Shingles Vaccine to prevent the disease and its related complications 

The pain of shingles and agony of postherpetic neuralgia is a strong argument to get protected against shingles.

And as the adage goes, Prevention is always better than cure.

Summary:

As per epidemiological studies, 1 in every 3 individuals will get shingles during their lifetime, and it usually happens after the age of 50. The complications increase with rising age.

Shingles can also be fatal for around 1 in a 1000 in age group of 70+, who develop it.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Shingles vaccine is a safe and most effective method to prevent shingles.

To know more about shingles vaccination, consult your Doctor or book a free consultation with Vaccine counselor at INVC.

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