Shingles becoming more common - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Shingles becoming more common

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Twenty percent of adults will have Shingles at some point of their lives. If you had Chickenpox, you are at a higher risk.

Once a person has Chickenpox, the disease can stay dormant in certain nerve roots of your body for many years. If it becomes active again, it can cause Shingles, typically later in life. 

The risk increases as your get older, and there's no way to tell who will get Shingles or when.

"It's extraordinarily painful, many times, people can't stand for clothing to touch them." That pain is something dermatologist Dr. Melanie Appell, has experienced first hand.

Appell says, "When I had it, it actually took me out of work. Which is something that's very rare for me.
It really put me in bed. Which is a rarity for me."

Shingles, is a viral illness. As it develops, it becomes a rash of fluid-filled blisters that are extremely sore to the touch.

"Small or larger blisters that come out in a grouped fashion, in what we call a dermatome, or one nerve root," explains Appell.

Shingles typically appear on one side of the body or face and can take two to four weeks to heal.

One of the biggest factors that causes the virus to reactivate is stress.

Appell says some may have Shingles and not know it.

"People can have sort of a deep, muscular pain for a while and when the rash come out, then we know that they have the Shingles," says Appell.

It's important for men and women over the age of fifty to keep an eye out for the first signs of Shingles.

Those include: itching, tingling, and burning of the skin. With an overall feeling of malaise.

"It really can take your full energy away and make you feel very sick overall," Appell says.

Dr. Rebecca Byrd, an internist at Trinity Medical Center says patients who come into her office want to know whether Shingles is contagious.

"People with Shingles cannot give adults, the Shingles, but what they can do is give infants who have not been vaccinated for Chickenpox, they can give children the Chickenpox," Byrd says.

Byrd says the best way to treat Shingles is through medicine. She warns not to wait.

"It's better if you can take the medication within the first 72 hours of the Shingles," says Byrd. "So it's important if you think you might have the Shingles so see your health care professional.

Typically people who get Shingles only get it one time. However, there are some who get it more than once Though, cases are separated anywhere from 20 to 35 years apart.

To prevent Shingles doctors highly recommend the vaccine.  If you're between the age of 60 and 65, most insurance providers will cover the costs.

If you've had Shingles before, you can still get the vaccine. As with each case, consult with your doctor.

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