If you or someone you know has had shingles, then you likely know how surprisingly painful it can be. Also called herpes zoster, shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Many of us had chicken pox as children. Even though we recover from it, the virus continues to live in some nerve cells. In one in three adults, the virus reactivates, causing shingles.
Although shingles can occur at any age in adulthood, it’s more common in older adults.
Shingles can affect various areas of the body. Symptoms may vary depending on where the shingles is and can include:
- An upset stomach
- A painful rash that shows up one to five days after symptoms start. It may look at first like small, red spots that become blisters.
- Itching, pain, or tingling in the area of the skin with the rash
Sometimes, it can take a while for health care providers to diagnose shingles as the symptoms may be confused with other health problems. If you suspect that you or someone you care for has shingles, see a health care provider urgently. Blisters around the eye may cause lasting vision damage; shingles in the ear may cause hearing loss.
Although there is no cure for shingles, there are drugs to help you manage pain and lower nerve damage. These include:
- Antiviral medicines
- Medications that target nerve pain
- Creams or lotions for itching
Shingles typically lasts three to five weeks, according to the National Institute on Aging. During your recovery, the blisters caused by shingles will scab over and dry up.
Unfortunately, about 20% of people with shingles experience what’s called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is a pain in the area where the rash occurred. It’s unpredictable how long the pain from PHN can last—it could be weeks or months. It is also associated with anxiety, sleep problems, and trouble completing daily activities. However, it should go away over time, and you should let your health care provider know as there are other treatments that may help with this specific shingles complication.
Here are a few management tips for coping with shingles:
- As frustrating as it may be, have some patience with yourself and your recovery. For most people, shingles sticks around longer than you’d like it to.
- Stay in communication with your health care provider about the effects of shingles. They may be able to recommend different treatments as your symptoms evolve.
- Keep your social plans light until you’re fully recovered. You’ll likely have some good and bad days as you get over shingles, and you don’t want to find yourself part of a social outing or travel, only to experience some of the shooting pain associated with shingles.
- Check in with your health care provider if symptoms from shingles get worse instead of better.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management
At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.