Chances are, if you were born before 1995 (when the chickenpox vaccine was approved), you could end up with shingles in your later years.
About one out of three people in the U.S. develop shingles, or herpes zoster, at some point in their later years. An estimated 99 percent of people age 40 or older have had chickenpox.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that gave you chickenpox: varicella zoster. Once your body fights off the virus, it remains dormant in your body. For some reason, it can cause shingles later on, typically after age 50.
The symptoms aren’t fun. The virus can cause a painful rash on one side of your face or body. You could also feel chills, stomach upset, or have a fever or headache.
In some cases, shingles can lead to postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which causes temporary, severe pain in the areas where you had the shingles rash, even after the rash is gone.
The good news? There’s a vaccine for that!
Immunizations aren’t just for kids. And shingles is disruptive and miserable enough that you should seriously consider getting vaccinated once you reach age 50.
There are two options for vaccines, one of which is more highly recommended.
If you’ve never had chickenpox, you should get the chickenpox vaccine. There are certain health conditions people can have where they should not be vaccinated for shingles. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician about the shingles vaccine.
Priya Jimmy, MD, is an internal medicine physician with Elmhurst Memorial Elmhurst Clinic. View her profile and schedule an appointment online now.
If you have reached this screen, your current device or browser is unable to access the full Edward-Elmhurst Health Web site.
To see the full site, please upgrade your browser to the most recent version of Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. If you cannot upgrade your browser, you can remain on this site.