Americans over 50 are encouraged to get the shingles vaccine, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Getting vaccinated against shingles is the only way, per the CDC, to not contract it.
Shingles Virus Lies Dormant in You After Chicken Pox
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox, varicella zoster virus, and can lead to painful rashes which in extreme cases can cause lasting nerve damage.
The first sign of shingles is often burning or tingling pain, or sometimes numbness or itchiness in one particular location on only one side of the body.
Once shingles emerges, a rash develops which may blister and is very painful which can last 2 to 4 weeks. The CDC recognizes two vaccines for shingles and recommends every person over age 50 to get vaccinated. This recommendation is for all people, whether they remember having the chicken pox or not.
Will Developing Shingles Damage My Body Long-Term?
According to the CDC, the pain from a shingles rash can actually emerge after the affliction clears up. It’s called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and can last months. Although the rash is gone, the pain from the rash is felt in its the same areas last afflicted with the shingles rash.
The pain is due to nerve damage from the full-blown shingles virus damaging the body’s nerve endings, according to Wikipedia. PRN can be a life-long affliction which comes and goes, is not cured but maintained.
How Can I Keep Shingles From Happening to Me
Per the CDC, “Your risk of getting shingles and PHN increases as you get older.” Although there is no cure for PHN once your nerves are damaged by the shingles virus, you can stop the likelihood of developing shingles in the first place through vaccination.
Getting vaccinated would not be in vain. Shingles is quite common, with 1 out of every 3 people in the United States developing it in their lifetime, according to the CDC. If you have ever had the chicken pox, you can get shingles.
Shingles and PHN should be disclosed on an application for life insurance and a licensed agent can advise you on the best options for obtaining coverage.