Terms like shingles and herpes zoster describe a silent monster lurking quietly in the body of those who had chickenpox. It may not be deadly in everyone but does pose a major health risk to individuals over 50. Read on to find out what shingles can do to the mature generation.
The shingles virus is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus known as the varicella-zoster virus. After having (and overcoming) chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus will remain dormant in the body for the rest of the individual’s life. However, that virus may become reactivated later on, causing shingles. Shingles shows up as a single stripe along the torso and possibly other parts of the body that is dotted with painful blisters, typically on individuals 50 and older.
Unfortunately, for older generations, shingles can be even harder to bear. Here are a few complications many older folks face when dealing with shingles:
Beyond the pain, the blisters that result from having shingles is the main source of discomfort. These blisters are typically filled with fluid that can burst open and scab over. Therefore, treating blisters is essential. However, if these blisters are left untreated, they can lead to a bacterial infection which can further irritate the skin or sore.
In rare cases, the shingles rash may spread to the face and travel to the ears and eyes. The outbreak will affect the facial nerve and cause facial paralysis resulting in hearing and/or vision loss. The paralysis may be temporary depending on the severity of the outbreak and treatment methods.
Like with hearing and vision loss, if shingles spread far enough, it can affect the brain nerves causing brain inflammation. This can result in neurological problems and cause an individual to have balance issues, loss of feeling throughout the body, loss of muscle strength, memory loss, and more. If you are having any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you contact a doctor immediately.
It’s not uncommon for individuals to still feel pain long after the blisters have disappeared. This happens when nerve fibers that have been damaged by the infection send false messages of pain to the brain.
While older folks are at a higher risk of developing shingles, they can still take certain precautions to mitigate the risk. One of those precautions is getting the shingles vaccine. Shingrix is a popular shingles vaccine that, when taken via injection in the upper arm, protects the patient from shingles for more than five years. Taking Shingrix doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get shingles, but it significantly reduces your chances.
Unfortunately, this vaccine only works as a preventative measure and cannot be used as a cure or a way to treat the virus. However, symptoms can be managed with antiviral drugs and painkillers as prescribed by your doctor.
Shingles symptoms can last up to two weeks, and people rarely get it more than once. Treating the symptoms as early as possible can give you enough comfort to wait it out. For eldery people, this is especially essential. The sooner you treat the virus, the less likely it will lead to severe and permanent health issues.