Shingles is a rash that is caused by the same virus that can cause chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox has the virus in their body. At any time, it can reactivate and cause shingles.
When seniors get shingles, it can cause a painful rash that results in large painful blister-like sores that can appear on any part of the body. Seniors that get shingles are more likely to develop some serious health problems. Seniors are encouraged to get a vaccine that can help protect them from shingles.
The first noticeable symptom of shingles is usually sharp pain. Then the red lesions will appear. In seniors the most common symptoms of shingles are: burning or tingling, pain, sensitivity to touch, red rashes, fluid-filled blisters that break open then crust over, itching, fever, headaches, fatigue, and sensitivity to light.
Seniors who haven’t yet gotten a shingles vaccine and don’t drive should consider getting in-home care. With in-home care seniors will have easy transportation and someone to go with them to vaccination clinics, medical appointments, and to run errands. Getting shingles can put seniors at risk of other serious diseases and cause complications like:
Postherpetic neuralgia is a very common side effect of shingles that seniors can develop. It’s persistent pain that lingers in the area where the shingles rash was. This pain can range from mild to severe and it can last for years.
If shingles affects the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve it can cause vision impairment or blindness. Seniors experiencing eye pain, redness, or changes in vision during a shingles outbreak should get medical attention immediately to prevent potential complications.
Seniors that develop severe cases of shingles may develop inflammatory conditions like encephalitis or myelitis which can cause long-term damage to the brain or the spinal cord.
Secondary Bacterial Infections
The open sores or blisters caused by the shingles rash put seniors at high risk for bacterial infections and cellulitis. In-home care providers can monitor seniors and make sure they get medical care immediately if they see any signs of infection.
Weakness and Fatigue
The overall stress on the body during a shingles outbreak, coupled with the pain and discomfort, can lead to weakness and fatigue in seniors. Recovery from shingles can take a long time for seniors, especially seniors who have other health problems.
In some cases, shingles can affect the lungs, leading to a condition known as herpes zoster pneumonia. This complication is more common in older adults and those with weakened immune systems. Pneumonia can be a serious and potentially life-threatening complication that requires immediate medical attention.
Secondary shingles happens when the virus spreads beyond the initial rash area, affecting other parts of the body. In most cases the rash is confined to one area of the body. But, in some seniors the rash does spread throughout the body.
Shingles can trigger autoimmune reactions, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. This may lead to various complications, including inflammation of blood vessels or joint inflammation.
Secondary Viral Infections Or Conditions
While the body is fighting shingles the weakened immune system may be unable to fight off other viruses or bacteria. It’s very common for seniors to come down with the flu, colds, or even Covid-19 during or just after a bout of shingles.
The staff at Home Care Matters is available to talk with you and your family about all of your needs. Home Care Matters is a home care agency providing quality and affordable in-home care in Oakwood, GA, and the surrounding areas. Call (770) 965-4004 for more information.
We provide elder care in Braselton, Buford, Dacula, Duluth, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Johns Creek, Lawrenceville, Oakwood, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Barrow County, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Jackson County, North Fulton County.
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