As an older adult with several health issues, I have been a bit concerned about the childhood disease Chickenpox (Varicella Zoster).
What is shingles?
Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus stays inactive in the body for life and can reactivate years, or even decades later, causing shingles. Because shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles, including about 98% of US adults.
About one million shingles cases occur in the US every year and almost one in three US adults will get shingles in their lifetime. Shingles can affect anyone who has had chickenpox at any time, however, it is more severe in those age 60 years and older. Shingles is associated with normal aging and anything that weakens the immune system such as certain medications, cancers, or infections, but it can also occur in healthy children and younger persons. Shingles is not passed from person to person.
Symptoms of shingles
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash that can be severe. The shingles rash usually develops on one side of the face or body. You may not be able to see the first signs of the rash, but you might feel pain, itching, or tingling where the rash will develop. The virus can cause nerve pain that can last for months or even years. The older you are, the greater your risk of long-term nerve pain is. Long-term nerve pain has been described as burning, stabbing, throbbing, or shooting. Shingles can also develop in the eyes and cause vision loss. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, upset stomach, muscle weakness, skin infection, scarring, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing.
I asked my 83 year old mother and she can't recall if i had either Chickenpox or the vaccine as a child. I suppose I should get the Shingles vaccine the next time I go to the Doc-in-a-box just to be safe.