7 Important Facts About Senior Shingles

Shingles is a disease where a nerve becomes infected by the virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus, and only those that have recovered from chicken pox get it. The virus remains dormant in your veins until it reactivates, causing the illness. This is not the case with most adults with the dormant virus; they never experience an incident or any related problems. One in three adults experience a reactivation of the virus, but instead of chickenpox, it causes shingles, and the reasons for the reactivation are not yet understood. Those that experience an occurrence of the infection will only suffer through it once or twice. The risk increases with age, and it’s thought to be related to a weakening immune system. Just about anything that negatively impacts your immune system can increase the risk for someone with the dormant virus. Signs include itching, fluid-filled blisters, and flu-like symptoms. It can also cause intense pain to the skin when touched and complications like temporary facial paralysis and vision loss.

Why Do Seniors Get Shingles

Shingles can occur at just about any age, as long as you’ve recovered from chickenpox. The incidence however, is much higher in the elderly population and the chances of getting it increases with age. The reason(s) why the virus is reactivated at later stages in life is still unknown, but it’s thought to be a result of lowered immunity, leaving us more vulnerable to disease. As we age, it may become harder for our bodies to fight off infections. Approximately half of shingles cases are in seniors aged 60 and up, and the likelihood increases a lot more by age 70. Your age affects your immune system, as does other illnesses or conditions that may be more common in seniors, such as certain treatments, or certain forms of stress. Anything that weakens the immune system, even for a short time, can put seniors at a greater risk for shingles.