Icipation In The Study
In this study, the researchers are comparing the shingles vaccine and flu vaccine, in a group of young people and a group of older people. Elderly people, over sixty, can still sign up for the study. Look here for more information and the conditions for participation.
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Shingles Can Strike Twice Will The Shingles Vaccine Help
No one who has experienced the burning, stabbing, painful misery of shingles wants to think about it again. But they should. Why? Because shingles can strike twice, or rarely, even a third time. A shingles vaccine can reduce the chances of a recurrence.
Theres some disagreement about how often recurrence occurs. In one study, researchers examined medical records of nearly 1,700 patients who had a documented case of shingles between 1996 and 2001. They found that more than 5% of these patients were treated for a second episode within an average of eight years. Thats about as likely as getting shingles in the first place if youre age 60 or older. Other studies have shown the recurrence rate to be much lower.
But the bottom line is the same: having shingles once doesnt protect you from ever having it again.
Is Stress A Risk Factor For Shingles
You may have heard that someone got shingles because they were stressed, perhaps after the death of a relative, soon after a divorce, or at the end of a difficult semester at school.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Theres some controversy about the matter, says Safdieh. We know for a fact that stress can have an impact on the function of the immune system. If theres stress, immunity is depressed, and I certainly see patients who tell me they were having a lot of stress when they got shingles. But, he adds, there are many people who are stressed and dont get shingles, and many people who get them while theyre on vacation.
If there is a link between stress and shingles, its probably not that the stress itself is putting a strain on the immune system it may be that stress creates conditions that lower immunity. Keep in mind, says Safdieh, that when youre stressed, you dont sleep and you dont eat, and all these factors can play a role.
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I’m Pregnant And Have Recently Been Exposed To Someone With Chickenpox How Will This Exposure Affect Me Or My Pregnancy
- Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality reported as high as 40%.
- Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin to reduce their risk of disease complications.
- If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
- First half of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk for birth defects or miscarriage.
- Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles later in life.
- Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin .
Causes And Risk Factors Of Shingles
The varicella-zoster virus the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses. This group also includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes.
If youve had chicken pox, you can get shingles. After the chicken pox is over, varicella-zoster lies inactive, mainly in spinal or cranial nerves. Sometimes the virus reactivates, and thats when it travels along the nerves to erupt as a rash on your skin, causing shingles.
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How Do You Get Immunised Against Shingles
You can only get the shingles vaccine on its own, not as a combination vaccine. It is given as a needle.
Shingles vaccines include:
Note the Zostavax vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus. Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons, please discuss with your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.
How Long After Ive Received The Shingles Vaccine Am I Contagious
With the currently authorized shingles vaccine, Shingrix, you wont be contagious. The old vaccine, Zostavax, used a weakened form of the live varicella-zoster virus. Therefore, people worried about spreading the disease to the people around them.
Shingrix doesnt use a live version of the varicella-zoster virus. It is inactivated, which means it uses a dead version of the virus. Therefore, you have no risk of transmitting the disease to anyone.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
No one likes to get shots, especially for something youve already been vaccinated for. But the newer version of the shingles vaccine is one youll want to offer up your arm for. The Shingrix vaccine is more than 90% effective at helping you prevent shingles. Since most of us have had chickenpox in the past, the shingles vaccine is an easy way to prevent the dormant chickenpox virus from creeping up and hitting you again with shingles.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.
You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.
Check If You Have Shingles
Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
The first signs of shingles can be a:
- tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
- headache or feeling generally unwell
A rash will appear a few days later.
Usually you get shingles on your chest and tummy, but it can appear on your face, eyes and genitals.
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When Should I See A Doctor
See your doctor at the first sign of shingles. Getting treated early can help it go away faster and may help you avoid related problems. For instance, shingles on the face can cause hearing or sight problems, including blindness.
If you have a weak immune system and can’t get the vaccine, early treatment is your best defense against shingles.
Sometimes what seems to be shingles is really herpes simplex. Though it usually appears as “cold sores” around the mouth or genitals, this form of herpes can show up elsewhere. A different treatment is used to clear it up. Your doctor can do tests, such as a viral culture, to confirm whether you have shingles and to get you the right treatment.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
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How Dangerous Is Shingles
Shingles isnt considered a dangerous health condition.
Each year about 1 million new cases of shingles are reported in the United States. Most people recover and resume their normal activities once theyre no longer infectious.
However, if shingles isnt treated, particularly severe cases can lead to death.
People with autoimmune conditions and people over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for shingles complications.
Women who are pregnant may also be concerned if they develop shingles. You and your baby will most likely be safe. However, talk with your healthcare provider if youre pregnant and suspect you have shingles.
Why Do I Need A Chickenpox Or Shingles Test
You may need a chickenpox or shingles test if you are at risk for complications, are not immune to VZV, and/or have symptoms of infection. Symptoms of the two diseases are similar and include:
- Red, blistering rash. Chickenpox rashes often appear all over the body and are usually very itchy. Shingles sometimes appear in just one area and are often painful.
You may also need this test if you are in a high-risk group and were recently exposed to chickenpox or shingles. You can’t catch shingles from another person. But the shingles virus can be spread and cause chickenpox in someone who doesn’t have immunity.
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What Does The Shingles Vaccine Do
The shingles vaccine can prevent shingles. Every year, about 1 million people in the United States get shingles. Anyone whos had chickenpox can get shingles. Thats because the varicella-zoster virus lives silently in your nervous system after you’ve had chickenpox. The virus can reactivate later in your life if your immune system is weakened. Your risk of getting shingles goes up as you get older. In the United States, 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
Who Shouldn’t Get It
A person should not get Shingrix if:
- They have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or the first dose of the vaccine.
- They test negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus.
- They currently have shingles.
- They are pregnant.
If you are experiencing a moderate to severe illness, with a fever or not, you should consider waiting until you are better before getting the vaccine.
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What Illnesses Does Varicella
Chickenpox first occurs as a blister-like skin rash and fever. It takes from 10-21 days after exposure for someone to develop chickenpox. The sores commonly occur in batches with different stages present at the same time. The blisters usually scab over in 5 days. A person with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. Children with weakened immune systems may have blisters occurring for a prolonged time period. Adults can develop severe pneumonia and other serious complications.
Shingles occurs when the virus, which has been inactive for some time, becomes active again. Severe pain and numbness along nerve pathways, commonly on the trunk or on the face, are present. Clusters of blisters appear 1 to 5 days later. The blisters are usually on one side of the body and closer together than in chickenpox. Shingles does not spread as shingles from one person to another. If people who have never had chickenpox come in contact with the fluid from shingles blisters, they can develop chickenpox.
What Are The Main Causes Of Shingles
If you are currently experiencing a shingles outbreak, its natural to question and want to know what caused it.
Besides the herpes zoster virus being reactivated in your system, other more complicated, less well-known triggers for the virus include:
- the decline in your immune systems response, a natural part of aging
- procedures, such as organ transplants, that require the use of immunosuppressant medication
- autoimmune conditions, such as Crohns disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- immunosuppressant treatments, such as chemotherapy, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatory medications
Whether you suspect that you have shingles, COVID-19, or both, seek medical attention immediately if you notice one or more of the following:
- a temperature of 103°F or higher
- difficulty breathing
- skin or lips that are turning pale or bluish
- persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- confusion or feeling disoriented
- a rash near your eye
If you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are over age 65 years, see a doctor right away if you suspect you have COVID-19 orshingles regardless of your specific symptoms.
Shingles is typically treated with antiviral medication. The earlier you get a confirmed diagnosis, the more effective the medication will be at managing your symptoms.
Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are antiviral medications that may be prescribed to treat a shingles outbreak.
Other treatments for shingles include:
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What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella
If you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox or shingles, or if you have a rash-associated illness that might be chickenpox or shingles, discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. Blood tests may be done to see if you have become infected with the virus or have had the disease in the past. If you are pregnant and not immune and have been exposed to chickenpox or shingles, call your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may choose to treat you with a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin , but in order for this medication to be most helpful, it needs to be given as soon as possible after your exposure to varicella.
How Well Does Shingrix Work
Two doses of Shingrix provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication of shingles.
- In adults 50 to 69 years old with healthy immune systems, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective.
- In adults 50 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 89% effective.
- In adults with weakened immune systems, Shingrix was between 68% and 91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on their underlying immunocompromising condition.
In people 70 years and older who had healthy immune systems, Shingrix immunity remained high throughout 7 years following vaccination.
Can You Get Shingles After Youve Been Vaccinated
While the shingles vaccine is highly effective, some people can still get shingles. However, people who do get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine usually have milder symptoms and a shorter illness. Youll also be less likely to have complications from shingles, including postherpetic neuralgia.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
Once the rash appears, the signs and symptoms are usually clear enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis. Before the rash appears, or in cases where there is no rash, diagnosis is more challenging.
Herpes zoster is sometimes confused with herpes simplex. Skin symptoms may also be mistaken for impetigo, contact dermatitis, folliculitis, scabies, insect bites, psoriasis, papular urticaria, candidal infection, dermatitis herpetiformis, and drug eruptions, adds the CDC.
Shingles, however, has two features that distinguish it from conditions with similar symptoms: its flu-like onset and the severe pain that follows.
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Increased Effectiveness Of Other Vaccines
This knowledge is relevant for two reasons, according to Kilic: “First, in a provisionally published, i.e. not yet peer-reviewed, American study, we see that people with the shingles vaccine have a lower risk of COVID infection as well as hospitalization due to COVID-19. We want to know how this is possible. Is the immune system extra activated by that adjuvant in the vaccine, so that it also better fights other infections? And in addition, we want to know which part of the immune system then plays a role.” In time, this knowledge can contribute to the improvement of other vaccines, increasing the effectiveness of these as well.
Things To Know About The Shingles Virus
Intense pain, burning, tingling and a blistering rash these are some of the common symptoms of shingles.
If youve ever had chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles is dormant in your nerve tissue.
So what causes shingles to spring to life wreaking havoc on your body and what can you do about it? Here are seven things you should know about the shingles virus.
1. Shingles is chicken pox coming back to get you
2. A common cold could trigger shingles
3. You can get shingles more than once
4. You cant give someone shingles
5. Vaccination can prevent shingles
6. Treatment options vary
7. Its rare but shingles can cause blindness
Randell Wexler is an associate professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
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