Shingles is a painful rash caused by varicella zoster, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. It hides dormant in your body and can reemerge many years later as shingles. There are about 1 million cases of shingles each year in the United States and about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. Older adults are most likely to develop shingles.
Shingles Myths and Facts for Consumers – National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Though rash is one of the defining characteristics of shingles, pain is actually a very common and troubling symptom of shingles. The pain associated with shingles can be severe. It may begin two to four days before the rash appears and it can last long after—sometimes up to a year or more. Other symptoms include long-term nerve pain, fever, headache, chills, upset stomach, muscle weakness, skin infection, scarring, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing. You have a greater chance of getting shingles as you get older; so, as the population ages, it is likely that more people who do not get vaccinated will get shingles every year. There is a safe, effective vaccine available to help prevent shingles.
Why Experts Say Older Adults Should Get the Shingles Vaccine
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the chicken pox virus, Varicella zoster. The shingles vaccine is effective, and like most medications, it carries a risk of side effects. Adults who had chicken pox as children carry the dormant virus. The virus can reactivate to cause shingles in later life, but the vaccine can prevent this from occurring.
People looking to receive the shingles vaccine now have two options. The Food and Drug Administration in approved Shingrix. It's the preferred alternative to Zostavax, which was approved in Both vaccines are approved for adults age 50 and older for the prevention of shingles and related complications, whether they've already had shingles or not. You may get the Shingrix vaccine even if you've already had shingles.