17.11.2021 – 15:12
GlaxoSmithKline GmbH & Co. KG
- Age as a risk factor: People over the age of 60 are at particular risk of developing severe diseases and complications
- Post-zoster neuralgia is one of the most common long-term complaints
- Complications from shingles can affect the quality of life of sufferers for several months
Shingles – a term that hardly reveals the severity of the disease. In fact, herpes zoster, as it is technically known, is a serious viral disease and can be associated with a wide range of symptoms, some of which are severe. What many don’t know: Everyone who has ever had chickenpox belongs to the risk group for shingles. Because after chickenpox subsides, usually in childhood, the pathogen, varicella-zoster virus, remains in the body for life. Even after many years and decades, it can reactivate and appear as shingles. This happens, for example, when the immune system is weakened by age, illness or stress and the virus is no longer able to contain it. More than 95 percent of people over the age of 60 carry the virus mostly unnoticed for a long time, but the likelihood of contracting the disease is relatively high: one in three will develop shingles during their lifetime.1 In the disease, the vast majority of those infected They suffer from severe nerve pain, often severe, described as stabbing and burning. Even after the disease subsided, not everyone could breathe a sigh of relief; Every third person with the disease has complications and has to suffer long-term consequences.2 That is why the Permanent Immunization Committee (STIKO) recommends the shingles vaccination the standard vaccination for people over 60 years of age; It is recommended for people with an underlying disease even from the age of 50.
Complications and long-term consequences can make an active daily life impossible
Shingles usually ends after a few weeks, but in 30% of cases patients develop complications that can significantly reduce their quality of life over a long period of time. One of the most common complications is postherpetic neuralgia, which affects those with severe nerve pain. In the worst cases, this lasts for months and in severe cases for life and can make active daily living largely impossible. The central nervous system, skin, ears, or eyes can also be affected. Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, as well as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in the months following illness, are other complications. In the case of shingles in the head region, visual disturbances can occur up to vision loss or facial paralysis. Shingles is a serious but avoidable health risk, especially for people in the second half of life. Shingles vaccination can prevent disease and complications. According to the current recommendation by STIKO, there is no need for vaccination intervals between the Covid-19 vaccine and other killed vaccines. Overall, it appears that the pandemic has permanently changed our awareness of our health. A global study commissioned by GSK showed that 63% of respondents in Germany would like to update their vaccination status in the future.
In order to be able to lead an active daily life in old age, it is worth asking your GP about recommended standard vaccinations the next time you visit the clinic.
Shingles masquerades as a skin disease, but it is an infectious disease that occurs due to the reactivation of the pathogen of chickenpox. More than 95 percent of people aged 60 or older have already had chickenpox and therefore carry the virus. One in three people will develop shingles at some point in their life. And neither a healthy lifestyle nor measures like the AHA-L rules can change that. On the other hand, the immune system decreases with age, which increases the possibility of reactivation. On the other hand, those infected do not become infected, but rather have the pathogen in their body. When the virus is reactivated, previously inactive pathogens migrate from the ganglia along the nerve fibers to their ends on the surface of the skin. It is there that characteristic vesicles develop in reaction, which are distributed in the form of a belt or ligament on the body. Often only half of the body is affected. Symptoms, for example, fatigue, exhaustion, rash and severe burning for stabbing nerve pain. In particular, severe pain can sometimes persist even after the rash has subsided if there are complications. One in three people experiences complications and long-term effects.2 This sometimes takes several months, and in other cases the pain can last a lifetime. In addition, shingles can lead to visual disturbances, complete loss of vision and hearing, and in rare cases, strokes.
You can find more information at: www.impfen.de/guertelrose
If you are interested, we are happy to help you establish contact with affected people, patient organizations or experts for essential interviews and discussions.
1 Wutzler et al. 2001; Vaccine 20: 121-124.
2 Harpaz R et al. MMWR Recomm Rep 2008; 57: 1-40.
3 GSK Global Vaccination Study 2021, 40-41.
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