The Truth about Shingles

By Pete Lane, 8:14 pm on

Did you know that almost 1 out of every 3 Americans will develop shingles during their lifetime? Considering that a majority of shingles sufferers are over the age of 60, it is clear why it is important to understand what shingles is and how it can be contracted. As a leading provider of elder care in Centennial, we wanted to answer a few questions about shingles and the effects this condition can have on the health and wellness of seniors and older adults.

What is shingles?

Caused by the varicella herpes zoster virus. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in your nerve roots until it flares up again. Shingles is characterized by a rash that eventually leads to fluid filled blisters on one side of the body. Shingles can be extremely painful, appearing in the form of a blistering skin rash that can result in itching, burning and pain in the area affected. Pain from shingles can also result in depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss. If your aging parent or loved one has shingles, activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and cooking can be difficult and dangerous and assistance should be provided either by yourself, a family member or a part-time caregiver in Centennial.

How long does shingles last?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), most cases of shingles last about a month. While the majority of individuals will not have a recurrence and will successfully recover, complications can develop. Those with immune disorders are more likely to suffer from complications, which can include postherpetic neuralgia.

How is shingles treated?

The goal of shingles treatment is to reduce the duration and severity of the condition. Statistics indicate that treatment is more effective when started at the onset of symptoms. Antiviral drugs are considered the cornerstone for shingles treatment, however a patient may also be prescribed antidepressants, steroids or topical ointments, as these are also helpful in minimizing other associated symptoms. Time is of the essence in order to prevent complications and the best prognosis.

Is shingles contagious?

Contrary to popular belief, shingles cannot be passed from one person to the next. It is possible for someone with shingles to pass the virus on to someone that has not suffered from chickenpox but will be seen as chickenpox rather than shingles.

Can shingles be prevented?

There is a vaccination made available to those 59 and older who have had chickenpox. This does not guarantee that shingles will not develop and there is still a small risk that shingles will occur. Typically, those who develop shingles even after vaccination will suffer a milder case with a shorter duration.

If your aging parent or loved one has contracted shingles, it is best to provide them with temporary care and assistance as many daily activities will be too painful to carry out. For seniors with extreme pain, 24 hour monitoring in Centennial is advised, ensuring safety and comfort during the day and at night. Schedule a complimentary consultation with Home Care Assistance at 303-957-3100 and learn more about the senior care services provided by our highly trained and compassionate caregivers.