Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How Do You Get Tested For Shingles

Where Does Shingles Come From

Shingles: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment with Dr. Mark Shalauta | San Diego Health

When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.

How To Pay For Shingrix

Commercial insurance covers about 96% of insured people for the Shingrix vaccine. Most people with private insurance will pay under $5 for each dose.

Programs like Medicaid cover Shingrix in certain states. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover the shingles vaccine. But individuals covered under Medicare prescription drug plans, or Part D, will have their vaccines covered.

For people who do not have access to insurance, there are a number of vaccine assistance programs and affordable health coverage options available. Many of these programs provide vaccines at little or no cost.

Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles

People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:

  • With a weakened immune system .
  • Over the age of 50.
  • Who have been ill.
  • Who have experienced trauma.
  • Who are under stress.

The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.

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When Is It Ordered

VZV antibody tests may be ordered when a health care practitioner wants to check whether a person has developed immunity to VZV, especially someone who is at high risk, such as an organ transplant recipient or a pregnant woman, and/or when a healthcare practitioner wants to identify a recent infection.

VZV culture or DNA tests may be ordered when a person at risk, such as a newborn or immunocompromised person, has been exposed to VZV and is ill with atypical and/or severe symptoms to detect an active primary VZV infection in the baby or a primary or reactivated infection in the immunocompromised person.

Higher Intensity Of Pain With Internal Shingles

Treating Shingles Organically Treating Shingles Naturally For Pain

While both regular shingles and internal shingles can cause preherpetic neuralgia, this condition has been found to be more severe in the latter case.

One study found that at the onset of symptoms, after one month, and after three months, internal shingles patients had consistently more severe and persistent pain. Overall, however, preherpetic neuralgia occurs much more frequently in regular herpes zoster patients.

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What To Expect From Your Doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you know if you’ve ever had chickenpox?

What Happens During Chickenpox And Shingles Testing

You will need to provide a sample of blood from your vein or from the fluid in one of your blisters. Blood tests check for antibodies to the VZV. Blister tests check for the virus itself.

For a blood test from a vein, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out.

For a blister test, a health care provider will gently press a cotton swab on a blister to collect a sample of fluid for testing.

Both types of tests are quick, usually taking less than five minutes.

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Check If You Have Shingles

The first signs of shingles can be:

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

Are There Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System To Help Lessen The Chances Of Developing Shingles

Shingles: What You Should Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Stress is a risk factor for developing shingles, so limiting your stress can be helpful. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods.

Other things you can do include:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Dont smoke or use tobacco products.

These are all tips for an overall healthy lifestyle, not just for reducing your chance of getting shingles.

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Preventing The Virus Spreading

If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

  • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
  • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
  • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

Is Shingles Prevention Possible Is There A Shingles Vaccine

Prevention of shingles in people who have contracted chickenpox is difficult, since the factors that trigger reactivation are not yet defined. However, if a person is never infected with the virus, shingles will not develop. Furthermore, there are at least two methods that are currently used to reduce the incidence of shingles.

First, the VZV vaccine, otherwise known as the chickenpox vaccine, may decrease the incidence of shingles by enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight off VZV or keep this virus inactive. This vaccine is usually administered to children, but the immunity may decline in about 15-20 years. The single-dose vaccine dose is given to babies 12-18 months of age. Most vaccine side effects, if they occur, are mild and range from a rash, skin redness, and swelling to small chickenpox lesions, usually at the injection site. Boosters of this vaccine for use in adults are now being investigated and may help prevent shingles in the future.

Shingrix is the vaccine the CDC currently recommends as the preferred shingles vaccine. Two doses about 2-6 months apart are more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and PHN, and it is recommended for use in people 50 and over. Side effects of Shingrix may occur and last about 2-3 days and may include redness and swelling at the inoculation site. Some individuals may experience muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, and nausea.

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How Is The Sample Collected For Testing

The sample required depends on whether testing is being done to determine the presence of antibodies or to detect the virus itself and on the health status of the person. Antibody testing requires a blood sample drawn from a vein in the arm. Viral detection may be done on a variety of samples, including a sample of vesicle fluid, blood, cerebrospinal fluid, other body fluid, or tissue.

How Is The Test Used

Check if you have shingles

Laboratory tests are not routinely used to diagnose active cases of chickenpox and shingles, which are caused by the varicella zoster virus . These conditions are usually diagnosed based upon a persons signs and symptoms. Most adults have been infected with VZV, and children are now vaccinated therefore, general population screening is not done. However, testing for VZV or for the antibodies produced in response to VZV infection may be performed in certain cases. For example, it may sometimes be performed in pregnant women, in newborns, in people prior to organ transplantation, and in those with HIV/AIDS. Testing may be used to:

  • Determine if someone has been previously exposed to VZV either through past infection or vaccination and has developed immunity to the disease
  • Distinguish between an active or prior infection
  • Determine whether someone with severe or atypical symptoms has an active VZV infection or has another condition with similar symptoms

There are several methods of testing for VZV:

Antibody testingWhen someone is exposed to VZV, the persons immune system responds by producing antibodies to the virus. Laboratory tests can detect and measure the level of two classes of VZV antibodies in the blood: IgM and IgG.

Viral detectionViral detection involves finding VZV in a blood, fluid, or tissue sample. This can be done either by culturing the virus or by detecting the viruss genetic material .

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Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used

Yes. The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older, but not routinely for people aged 50 to 59. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .

You can consider Zostavax if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable because of supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because its a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.

Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles

Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.

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What Is The Prognosis For Shingles What Are Possible Shingles Complications

Many cases of shingles go away by themselves, with or without treatment. The rash and pain should be gone in two to three weeks. However, shingles may last longer and be more likely to recur if the person is older, especially older than 50 years of age, or if they have a serious medical problem.

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Can You Get Shingles More Than Once

All about shingles

Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.

The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:

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Hows Shingles Without A Rash Diagnosed

Shingles without a rash isnt common, but it may be more common than previously thought because it often goes undiagnosed. Shingles without a rash is difficult to diagnose based on your symptoms alone.

Your doctor may test your blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or saliva to identify the presence of VZV antibodies. This will allow them to confirm a diagnosis of shingles without a rash. However, these tests are often inconclusive.

Your medical history may provide clues that suggest you have shingles without a rash. Your doctor may ask if youve had a recent operation or if youre under increased stress.

Once your doctor suspects you have VZV, theyll use antiviral medicines such as acyclovir to treat the shingles. They may also prescribe drugs for the pain.

Other treatment will vary based on the location and severity of symptoms.

How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated

If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.

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What Are They Used For

Health care providers can usually diagnose chickenpox or shingles with a visual examination. Tests are sometimes ordered to check for immunity to the varicella zoster virus . You have immunity if you’ve had chickenpox before or have had the chickenpox vaccine. If you have immunity it means you can’t get chickenpox, but you can still get shingles later in life.

Tests may be done on people who don’t have or are unsure about immunity and are at higher risk of complications from VZV. These include:

  • Newborns, if the mother is infected
  • Teen and adults with symptoms of chickenpox
  • People with HIV/AIDS or another condition that weakens the immune system

A Look Back At Varicella

Can You Get Shingles More Than Once?

Even though chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus, the conditions have different vaccines. The chickenpox vaccine made its debut in 1995, but a shingles vaccine didnt hit the market until about a decade later. The first shingles vaccine was Zostavax in 2006. However, this vaccine was taken off the market in 2020, following the release of another vaccine, called Shingrix, in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that anyone who received Zostavax be revaccinated with Shingrix.

Three groups of people absolutely should not receive the shingles vaccine. These are people who:

  • currently have shingles
  • previously had an allergic reaction to any components of the Shingrix vaccine

If you are pregnant or currently have shingles, its best to wait to get vaccinated until you are no longer pregnant or your shingles case clears up.

It may be difficult to know if you are allergic to any part of the vaccine, so speak with a doctor about any medication allergies you may have or previous reactions you experienced after vaccinations.

Most of the side effects of the shingles vaccine are limited and short-acting. Side effects usually appear in the first few days after your first or second dose of the vaccine and disappear within a few days.

Common side effects include things like:

  • arm soreness or pain where the vaccine was injected
  • swelling or redness at the injection site

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When To Call A Doctor

if you:

  • Have a rash or blisters on your face, especially near an eye or on the tip of your nose. This can be a warning of eye problems. Treatment can help prevent permanent eye damage.
  • Think you have shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medicines may help reduce pain and prevent complications of shingles, such as disseminated zoster or postherpetic neuralgia .

If you still feel intense pain for more than 1 month after the skin heals, see your doctor to find out if you have PHN. Getting your pain under control right away may prevent nerve damage that may cause pain that lasts for months or years.

You Cannot Get Shingles From Someone With Chickenpox

You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.

When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.

This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.

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Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.

You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:

  • Youve had shingles already.
  • Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
  • You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.

Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.

Key Points About Shingles

How Can You Prevent Shingles
  • Shingles is a common viral infection of the nerves. It causes a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin.
  • Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated.
  • It is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.
  • Shingles starts with skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain followed by rash that looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
  • The rash is typically affects just one area on one side of the body or face.
  • Treatment that is started as soon as possible helps reduce the severity of the disease.

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Are There Any Restrictions After A Shingles Shot

You should not receive the shingles vaccine if you are pregnant, if you have an active shingles infection, or if you previously had an allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine. If youre eligible for the vaccine and receive the vaccination, there are no restrictions afterward and you can leave the doctors office or pharmacy as soon as the shot is complete.

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