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Does Age Have Anything To Do With Developing Shingles? — an article on the Smart Living Network
January 8, 2008 at 2:14 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Does Age Have Anything To Do With Developing Shingles?

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A Description of Shingles

Everyone may be at risk for contracting shingles. Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the awakening of the once-dormant nerve roots of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster). It is known to cause painful blisters and rashes on one side of the body that can last for weeks.

How Shingles Makes You Feel

When people have shingles they may lose their appetite, feel strong abdominal pains, have disrupted sleep patterns and may have increased mood changes. These can all be due to the extensive amount of pain this virus brings. Other symptoms that can be associated with shingles include fever, burning or tingling feeling, and chills. These symptoms may come with the onset of the virus.

Risk Factors for Shingles

As stated above, anyone may develop shingles. It is best to know those who are most at risk.

  • People who have not had, who have had and those who have had a mild case of chickenpox.
  • People with particularly weak immune systems due to illness and/or the treatments of those types of diseases.
  • People with a history or family history of bone or lymphatic cancers.
  • Pregnant women and their babies. An infant whose mother had chickenpox while pregnant or if she had chickenpox while she was an infant makes the infant more likely to develop pediatric shingles. An infant may also be born with chickenpox if the mother had chickenpox between 5 to 21 days before giving birth to him or her.
  • Older people, risk is shown to increase with age.

Age: A Risk Factor that is no Secret

Chickenpox is typically associated with younger children and shingles is typically associated with older people. The reason that children are so susceptible to chickenpox is because their immune systems are not strong enough yet and can easily catch it if exposed. It is the same with older adults and shingles. Elderly people may have weakened immune systems due to constant stress or from previous illnesses (HIV or diabetes) and treatments (steroids or chemotherapy). Studies have shown that age is the most prevalent factors of developing shingles. Age is also known to be one of the top epidemiological predictors of this virus. People who are over the age of 60 have been known to develop shingles ten times more than anyone under the age of ten. People can commonly have a trigger of shingles after receiving an organ transplant or while undergoing chemotherapy. In younger people shingles can be an early indicator of HIV.

Postherpetic Neuralgia

In some cases people are not able to fully recover from having shingles for months after their last rashes or blisters are gone. This is called postherpetic neuralgia, when the symptoms such as headaches and skin sensitivity persist. It is cause for contacting a physician because the symptoms typically go away in most cases. The risk for having more complications resulting from shingles increases with age as well as it does to contract it. The body is too weak to completely cure it. Each risk factor for developing shingles can bring somewhat long-lasting complications. No matter what age, people should always take shingles seriously.

Sources:

http://www.uspharmacist.com/oldformat.asp?url=newlook/files/Cons/ACF2F21.cfm&pub_id=8&article_id=53

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/detail_shingles.htm#108783223

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