How Shingles Effects Seniors

Shingles is a painful, burning rash caused by a viral infection. Although shingles can break out on any part of the body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters wrapping around either the left or the right side of the torso. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes Chickenpox: Varicella-Zoster virus. Read on to learn the symptoms, who is at most risk, and the best way to prevent it.

Varicella-zoster virus
Image courtesy of WebMD

Shingles Symptoms Include:

  • Numbness and tingling, pain and burning
  • Red rash appearing a few days after pain begins
  • Itching
  • Skin is sensitive to touch
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over

Other possible symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Other symptoms include blisters and sores, chills, joint pain, and swollen glands.

According to health professionals, seniors may have more to fear from a bout of shingles than just the painful, itchy rash. Seniors experiencing the first signs of shingles may have a higher risk of stroke, however, risk can be reduced if the patient is treated with oral-antiviral drugs, according to a new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Our home health caregivers are trained to recognize symptoms of the virus and can alert Allcare Home Health staff for immediate attention.

Who Is Most At Risk?
Shingles can affect anyone, particularly people aged 60 and older, those who had chickenpox before age 1, and those with a weakened immune system. Shingles is a significant public health problem in aging populations, affecting 1 million Americans and about 90,000 people aged 60 and older in the U.K., studies show.

The FDA has approved a herpes zoster vaccine which is available to adults age 60 and over. This vaccine is the best way to prevent shingles. According to the CDC, persons with weakened immune systems due to certain drugs such as steroids, people undergoing cancer treatment, or those with conditions affecting the immune system such as HIV or AIDS should not take the vaccine.

Allcare Home Health offers compassionate in-home care and assistance with our client’s activities of daily living. Fill out our online contact form or call (919) 301-0236 to schedule a new client assessment with one of our experienced RNs.