What Are The Risk Factors For Shingles?
Did you know
Shingles is the result of a germ known as varicella-zoster virus? Varicella-zoster virus is the virus, which caused chickenpox when you were a child. As you healed from chickenpox, the lesions healed and symptoms diminished, but the virus never left your body. Varicella-zoster virus is with you for the rest of your life. The varicella-zoster virus will hide in your nerve cells, around the spine. The virus will reactivate when your nervous system sends a signal to your immune system saying your immunity has become compromised and weakened. When reactivation occurs, the varicella-zoster virus will follow the nerve path known as dermatome. The dermatome path always begins at specific location in the spine, continuing around the torso on only one side of your body raising at nerve endings only the skin. The lined blister pattern of the rash identifies the location of the affected nerve path.
Over centuries of studying the varicella-zoster virus, doctors have identified the leading risk for shingles is an individual who has experienced chickenpox. The fact is that 1 out of 5 people which, had chickenpox virus is effected by shingles later in life. Although shingles is most common in individuals over the age of 60, everyone who has had the chickenpox virus runs the risk of developing shingles. Shingles however, tend to be more common in individuals who have weakened immune systems from diseases and treatments such as organ transplants, stress, chemotherapy, HIV or radiation treatment.
The risk factors do not always need to be present to develop the shingles virus. It is possible to get shingles whether you have or have not experienced any of the risk factors. Common risk factors are stated below. Although, your likelihood of getting shingles is significantly higher the more risk factors you do experience. Remember, an individual who has not had chickenpox will not develop shingles. An individual must have had the chickenpox virus for the virus to becomes reactivated as shingles. Approximately 20% of those whom have experienced chickenpox will develop shingles later in life. Risk factors that may cause individuals to be more likely to develop shingles are:
- Medical conditions that weaken the immune system
- Immuno-suppressant medications
- Radiation therapy
- Ethnic background