As we journey through life, various health concerns tend to become more prominent as we age. Shingles, a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is one such concern that often comes into focus as we approach our 50s. Having knowledge about the nuances of shingles and how it can affect us becomes increasingly important during this phase of life. In this blog, we will explore five essential things you need to know about shingles before you enter your 50s. From the increased risk with age to the excruciating nature of the rash and the importance of vaccination, this guide will equip you with the facts necessary to navigate the potential challenges of shingles in your later years.
5 Key Facts to Know About Shingles
Shingles can be a painful and disruptive condition, so here are five key things to know about it before you enter your 50s.
1. Increased Risk after 50
Shingles primarily affects individuals who have had chickenpox in the past. As you age, your immune system’s ability to keep the virus in check weakens, making people above the age of 50 more susceptible to shingles. In fact, about half of all cases occur in individuals over 50.
2. You Can Get Shingles Even If You Haven’t Had Chickenpox
Surprisingly, you can still get shingles even if you have not had chickenpox. This can happen if you were exposed to the virus in your childhood and it remained dormant in your body. The reactivation of the virus, which causes shingles, can occur later in life.
3. Stress Can Increase the Risk
High levels of stress can weaken your immune system, potentially triggering a shingles outbreak. Stress has been linked to numerous health issues, and shingles is no exception. Learning effective stress management techniques can help reduce the risk.
4. The Rash Can Be Excruciating:
Shingles typically presents as a painful rash that can be debilitating. Those affected often describe the pain as feeling like electric shocks, piercing nails, or burns from boiling water. The pain may also be accompanied by itching, tingling, and numbness localised to the affected area. It is not only physically uncomfortable but can also take a toll on your emotional well-being.
5. Recurrence Is Possible
While most people experience shingles only once, it is possible to have multiple episodes of shingles. Recurrence is relatively rare but can happen. The risk of recurrence tends to increase with age and is often associated with a weakened immune system. Proper management and vaccination can reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
Shingles is one of the vaccination-preventable diseases, and vaccination is strongly recommended, especially for individuals in their 50s. Immunisation against this infection can significantly reduce the risk of developing shingles and the severity of the condition if you do get it. Vaccination side effects are typically mild and temporary, including pain, swelling, and redness at the place where the shot is administered, as well as potential flu-like symptoms. These side effects are usually short-lived and far less troublesome than dealing with a shingles outbreak.