• Sunday, 24 March 2019

Family Physicians: Shingles Vaccine for Adults 50+, Don't Delay

LEAWOOD, Kan: There is never a "typical" day for Dr. Melinda Dunn, a family physician in Overland Park, Kansas. So, Dunn wasn't surprised when one of her patients, 57-year-old Marybeth, came to her appointment complaining of skin tingling and pain on the left side of her face and scalp that later turned into a rash of blister-like sores.

She also had a slight fever and headache. Marybeth thought it was an allergic reaction to a new shampoo, so she had quit using it - but that hadn't helped.

As a family doctor, Dunn helps patients of all ages and from all walks of life live healthier, more productive lives. Dunn promotes prevention and wellness and is trained to address a broad spectrum of health issues ranging from chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease to acute care for isolated injuries and illnesses to mental and behavioral wellbeing.

Dunn diagnosed Marybeth with shingles — a very painful and potentially debilitating disease. If someone has had chickenpox, they are at risk for getting shingles. According to the CDC, in the United States there are an estimated one million cases of shingles each year and almost one out of every three people will develop shingles.

"I urge all my healthy patients 50 years and older who have had chickenpox to get the shingles vaccine," Dunn said. "Being vaccinated can help prevent a painful disease." If someone already has the shingles, like Marybeth, it can be treated by antiviral medications taken as soon as possible after the rash starts.

Shingles can't be passed from one person to another. However, the virus that causes shingles can be passed to others through direct contact with fluid from the disease's rash blisters. Contact with that fluid can cause chickenpox in someone who has never had the disease or received the vaccine. Once the rash blisters develop crusts, the person is no longer infectious.

"Don't wait to call your family doctor if you have had chickenpox and are more than 50 years old. Save yourself potential pain and discomfort and get the shingles vaccine immediately," Dunn said. "You'll be glad you did."

For more information on shingles symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment, go to familydoctor.org.

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Family Physicians: Shingles Vaccine for Adults 50+, Don't Delay

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