Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a painful condition that people of all ages can develop. It attacks the nerves and surrounding tissues in the body. It is caused by the chickenpox reactivating within the body. Anyone who has recovered from the chickenpox at some point in their life or has had the chickenpox vaccination can get shingles. However, risks increase for adults over 50 years of age. In addition to aging, other triggers for shingles include being HIV positive, having some forms of cancer and undergoing cancer treatment. Taking certain medications and severe stress or trauma in one’s life also contributes.
There are several common symptoms that people experience when they have shingles. They include:
- Pain, burning and tingling
- A rash on the spine, around the abdomen or on the face, eyes and ears
- Skin patches that start out red and eventually blister
- Joint pain, fever, headaches and swollen glands
If a person suspects shingles, it is important to see a medical professional for a diagnosis. Doctors will typically perform a thorough physical exam to determine if the concern is shingles. At times, a skin test is also performed to detect any infections.
Once diagnosed, most treatment is over the counter or holistic in nature. Oatmeal baths, topical lotions, aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil and cold compresses provide relief from the pain and burning sensations that often accompany this disease. A doctor might also prescribe anti-viral medications to help ease the pain and speed recovery.
Getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress is also an excellent way to promote recovery. Family caregivers who are diagnosed with shingles often benefit from respite care. This is typically provided through an agency like Salus Homecare San Diego. Professional support makes it possible for family members to take a break from caregiver duties while recovering. Seniors also benefit from accredited home care assistance. Professional caregivers assist them with maintaining healthy lifestyle choices. These include eating a balanced diet, managing hygiene and personal care needs and ensuring that medications are taken on schedule and as prescribed.
While there is no cure for shingles, some precautionary measures help seniors to remain free from this virus and reduce the severity of symptoms if they are diagnosed. A vaccine exists that greatly reduces the risks of shingles. Seniors who avoid stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle and strong immune system also reduce their risks. If a person has an active case of shingles, it is best for the senior to maintain some distance from that individual. The same is true if a person has an active case of chickenpox. Take special precautions if the senior has never had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it.
Shingles is a common virus that impacts millions of Americans. Leading a healthy lifestyle, discussing important vaccinations with your physician and having a clear understanding of the most common symptoms of shingles is advised. These steps help seniors and their family caregivers to both prevent shingles and seek immediate attention should the condition arise.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with shingles and need caring, reliable respite care or assistance managing personal care needs, Salus Homecare San Diego is here to help. Scheduling is flexible, and we never require clients to sign a contract or pay a cancellation fee when services are no longer needed. To learn more, call us and request a complimentary, no obligation evaluation.
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