Carol Bradley Bursack, Published July 31 2011
Bursack: Shingles can have devastating effects
This can mean that caregivers may be affected by shingles, even if their elders aren’t. Don’t worry about the disease being contagious. It’s not. However, you can get a repeat occurrence.
Here is a small sample of comments from readers:
- Shingles ... affected me three years ago when I was only 40 and developed Post-Herpetic Neuralgia … The breakout was in my right eye ... I lost my job… I had medical bills that were overwhelming …
The pain is like no other. There have been many times in which I frankly did not care if I lived any longer. PHN is also called the suicide disease. – Diane
- My bout of shingles, from which I developed PHN (postherpetic neuralgia), hit me at age 37. The PHN, while much improved, is still with me three years later. – Amy
- I recognize that your column is focused on caring for parents and elders, but when it comes to the deeply painful illness of shingles, younger adults should be aware that if they experience shingles symptoms … antivirals can shorten the course of this painful illness, but they are only effective if started within 72 hours of the shingles rash first appearing. – Michelle
- My career was destroyed and my life badly damaged when I contracted Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS), perhaps the most deadly form of shingles … in my early 40s … . After multiple misdiagnoses, I almost died … . Unfortunately, the shingles virus had damaged my facial nerves, my mastoid and my brain. … I am writing this through pain because it is so important to me. I also suffer from horrendous attacks that stab me like lightning bolts in my eyeball, cheek, teeth, ears, eyelids, lips – everywhere in my face, which is paralyzed on one side. – Andy
After reading the notes above, and many others, as well, I checked the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines. The site says that the vaccine is only available to people over 60, as that was the age of the group studied for safety and effectiveness. It also states that all people in that age group should be vaccinated.
I hope studies will soon be conducted using the younger population so that everyone can have access to the vaccine. Thanks to you all for helping to increase awareness about this serious, and potentially devastating, disease.