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How Much Do You Know About Shingles?


Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster 1) ___, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an attack of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the nerve tissue. As people get older, it is possible for the virus to reappear in the form of shingles.


Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in this country. Anyone who has recovered from 2) ___ may develop shingles; even children can get shingles. However the risk of shingles increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women 60 years old or older. People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime. However, a person can have a second or even a third episode. Some people have a greater risk of getting shingles. This includes people who:


have medical conditions that keep their immune systems from working properly, such as certain 3) ___ like leukemia and lymphoma, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and

receive immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids and drugs that are given after organ transplantation.


Shingles is caused by the varicella 4) ___ virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. Shingles is not caused by the same virus that causes genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease. Shingles is a painful 5) ___ that develops on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. Before the rash develops, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears. Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the 6) ___ side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision. Other symptoms of shingles can include: fever, headache, chills, upset 7) ___.


If a rash develops, it should be diagnosed by a 8) ___ , who can start treatment right away, if it is shingles. There is no cure for shingles, but how bad an attack it will be and how long it will last can be much reduced if antiviral medication is taken right away. These medicines include acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famcyclovir. If you are age 60 or older speak to your physician about getting vaccinated against this virus.


Shingles causes a painful, blistering skin rash that can last 2 to 4 weeks. For some people, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This pain is called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks. PHN occurs rarely among people under 40 years of age but can occur in up to a third of untreated people who are 60 years of age and older. People have described 9) ___ from shingles as excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing, and shock-like. It has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones. This pain may also lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Shingles can interfere with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, shopping, and travel. Shingles can lead to eye complications that can result in vision loss.


Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, a person with shingles can transmit VZV to others. A person who gets infected with VZV for the first time will develop chickenpox, not 10) ___. Shingles may lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. Sources: CDC.gov; NIH.gov; Wikipedia


ANSWERS: 1) virus; 2) chicken pox; 3) cancers; 4) zoster; 5) rash; 6) right; 7) stomach; 8) dermatologist; 9) pain; 10) shingles



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