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Feb 21, 2013

Healthy Living; chicken pox and shingles

Chicken Pox is a notorious childhood disease that many children are exposed to. Although extremely uncomfortable there is usually a bit of relief; that is because it is believed that if you contract chicken pox once – then you won’t ever get it again. Well, not so! There is an illness that can be triggered by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Adults, especially the elderly, are most vulnerable to developing it. This week’s healthy living looks at the painful and uncomfortable condition known as Shingles.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

If you have ever been infected with Chicken Pox, then you are automatically at risk for developing Shingles. According to Internist, Dr Daniel Godinez, shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox.

 

Doctor Daniel Godinez, Internist

“Shingles is a condition that appears only on those who have suffered chicken pox before. So for you to develop shingles requisite is that you must have had chicken pox earlier in your life.  Once you develop chicken pox the virus, that causes it is really not completely destroyed by your body but goes dormant into your nerves. The virus can stay there for years dormant and whenever any situation that weakens your immune system appears then the virus can flare up.”

 

The virus is called the varicella-zoster virus. When it flares up in adults, it results in a distinctive, painful rash called shingles. Not everyone who’s had chicken pox will develop shingles, the main trigger is a weakened immune system, that can be caused from sickness or stress; the elderly are also more susceptible.

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“Shingles is a condition that usually happens to middle age or elderly. Although really shingles can happen at any age but certainly it’s more when you cross the line of fifty.”

 

But what does a person experience when affected by shingles? Other than the distinctive blisters that wrap around the side of the waist. The main description is usually PAIN.

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“Since shingle mostly affect the nerves and the nerves are very sensitive. It’s very much like pinching a nerve that is the kind of pain that you will experience. Nerve pain is known as one of the most intense pains that a human experience. The typical evolution of shingles is that first there is pain in the areas where the shingles are going to appear and then two or three days later, the blisters appear. And about one week later, these blisters start drying up and form scabs made out of blood. So they look dark. The whole process can last about three weeks and of course it is very painful. It is infectious during the time that the scabs and blisters are present.”

 

For some persons the pain of shingles may last for months or even years after the blisters have healed this is because of damaged nerves in and beneath the skin. You cannot catch shingles from another person; but it is contagious. In fact because they’re caused by the same virus – contact with a person who has shingles during the time of blistering can cause –someone who’s never been infected before – to catch chicken pox. In terms of prevention, trying to keep a strong immune system is a start.

 

Dr. Daniel Godinez

“It has been proven that eating vitamins with supplement with vitamins or eating plenty foods and vegetables can reduce the risk to get shingles. The theory is that these things will help to boost your immune system. Also the elderly patients who are exposed to children who have chicken pox; they get a boost out of the exposure and so they decrease the risk of developing shingles also.  In the past we use to think that shingles was a harmless condition but now we know it can really lead to serious complications including infections on the brain, occasional death, seizures and also the most common thing is the fact that many persons are left with severe pain that can last up to one or two years after that.”

 

Treatment includes anti viral, anti inflammatory medications and pain management. The earlier treatment is administered the lesser the effects. In some parts of the world, there is a vaccine for elderly to prevent shingles that vaccination is different from the chicken pox vaccine for children.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living; chicken pox and shingles”

  1. Storm says:

    I wonder if I can find that shingles shot in the Jewel? I’m old enough to worry about it, and it looks like something I definitely don’t want to have!

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