Luckily, it is extremely rare that shingles is deadly to the elderly. While shingles is dangerous for the elderly, there is good news. There are several antiviral treatments that help shorten shingles and lessen the severity of the rash and pain. You can also try using a cool compress on the rash to lessen itching.
Oral anti-viral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex) have been shown to decrease the severity and duration of the rash and shingles pain, but only if they are started within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash.
Most cases of shingles last 3 to 5 weeks . Shingles follows a pattern: The first sign is often burning or tingling pain ; sometimes, it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body. Somewhere between 1 and 5 days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
Shingles can sometimes lead to complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia. This is where severe nerve pain lasts for several months or more after the rash has gone. Complications such as this are usually in elderly people who have had the condition and those with a weakened immune system.
The disease is not contagious to someone as long as the person has already had chicken pox. However, people with shingles are contagious to those who are still susceptible to the chicken pox virus. Babies, young children and unvaccinated individuals are most susceptible, as well as those with weakened immune systems.
Complications from shingles in the elderly can lead to serious , long-term health problems. They range from bacterial skin infections that can cause scarring and narcotizing fasciitis to hearing and vision loss, encephalitis, transverse myelitis, peripheral motor neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
For adults who are otherwise fairly healthy, shingles is not life threatening, though it can be quite uncomfortable. However, when left untreated, shingles may cause complications. For certain people — such as those over the age of 65 or whose immune systems are compromised — these complications could lead to death.
The stages of shingles are tingling pain, followed by a burning feeling and a red rash, then blistering, and finally the blisters will crust over. You will typically develop a rash about 1-5 days after you feel numbness or tingling pain.
The cause of shingles in the elderly is a virus called varicella-zoster. Chickenpox and shingles are both caused by this virus. After you have chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain.
The reason for shingles is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older . Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems.
Weakened Immune System There is a clear association between shingles and weakened immunity to infection. 9 Even though the varicella virus is not invading the body for the first time, the immune system still is responsible for keeping it at bay. Sometimes, however, it’s unable to do that.
People who develop shingles have a 59 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who don’t get the viral infection. That’s according to a report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which also claims there’s a 35 percent higher risk of stroke for those who get shingles .
Most of the time, your symptoms go away in less than a month. But for some people, complications come up. While shingles itself is almost never life threatening, it can lead to serious problems, such as the loss of eyesight. If you think you have shingles , check with your doctor.
However, you don’t want to unintentionally spread the virus to those who’ve never had chickenpox. If you’re in contact with someone with shingles , you should avoid directly touching their rash. You should also avoid touching their clothes, bedding, towels, or anything else that might have touched their rash.
Stress-balancing Bs are vital to a shingles diet since the virus tinkers with nerve endings causing severe pain. Get cracking with eggs of all manners, along with milk and chicken, packed with B12s, while bananas , brewer’s yeast and potatoes have an abundance of calming B6s.
The incubation period is 2–3 weeks and is usually 14–16 days. This may be prolonged in immunosuppressed persons or following immunoglobulin administration as passive immunisation against varicella .