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What Everyone Should Know About Shingles. By Our August Pharmacy Student, Basil Sarantis.

If you have had chicken pox before (or even if you haven’t), please read!

Hello, everyone! My name is Basil Sarantis and I am a pharmacy student who will be here at Plain City Druggist for the month of August.  Throughout the month, I will be writing some short blog posts on topics of my choice. With that being said, my first question to my new readers is, have you had chicken pox at any point in your life?  If you have, then continue reading. If you have not, continue reading anyway and tell your friends and family about this blog (because they may have had chicken pox before).

So why am I asking about chicken pox? People who have had chicken pox before usually had the virus at a young age. Those suffering from chicken pox were miserable and itchy for about a week, and then they recovered. The thing is, the virus that causes chicken pox, called varicella-zoster, is still in those people’s bodies, and will be forever, even though they may have no signs of chicken pox. Years to decades later, the same virus that causes chicken pox can cause shingles.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a skin rash that often is associated with blisters. Some other symptoms are pain, tingling, or numbness. The most serious long-term effect of shingles is something called post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN–simply put, severe nerve pain. This condition can last long after the rash caused by shingles disappears, and it can be extremely difficult to treat, greatly affecting a person’s quality of life. Also, shingles is more likely to appear in people aged 50 or older, and is even more likely in patients who have a weakened immune system due to medications, cancer, or infections.

So what can you do to help prevent shingles? The answer is simple. Talk with your doctor about the shingles vaccine and see if it would be a reasonable option for you.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the shingles vaccine for people 60 and older.  The shingles vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of developing shingles by about 50%. Those who did develop shingles even with having received the vaccine, experienced a more mild form of the disease and had much less pain, both short term and long term.

Unlike some vaccinations (like the flu-shot–which everyone should be getting this fall in time for flu season), the shingles vaccine requires a prescription from your doctor. The vaccine can then be given at almost any pharmacy–like right here at Plain City Druggist!

So in summary, if you have ever had the chicken pox (or even if you haven’t), and you are 50 or older, talk with your doctor about the shingles vaccine. One conversation can prevent a lot of unnecessary pain and frustration for you and your family in the future.  Remember, prevention is the best medicine.

Thanks for reading.

Source: www.nfid.org (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

To see a slideshow on Shingles on WebMD, go HERE.



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