I didn’t know I was at risk: What everyone 50+ needs to know about shingles

I didn’t know I was at risk: What everyone 50+ needs to know about shingles

(BPT) – Public relations professional, activist and Nevada native Jackie loves spending time in her community hosting special events, volunteering and gardening.

Jackie woke up suddenly with a sharp pain on the inside of her leg. She immediately recognized that the pain was linked to the itchy spot she felt earlier in the day. Feelings of anxiety and panic overcame her, but thinking of her two children, Jackie decided it was best to wait until the following day to act.

‘At first, I didn’t think much of the itchy rash,’ said Jackie. ‘I thought it was a bug bite from gardening and moved on. When I woke up to a searing pain on my thigh, I knew it was something more.’

As soon as Jackie woke up the next morning, she sent a photo of her rash to a friend who suggested it looked more like shingles than a spider bite.

‘I couldn’t believe it at first, but I knew she was right. I rushed to urgent care asking myself, ‘How could I have shingles?”

Her experience with shingles was excruciatingly painful and something that she wouldn’t wish on anyone. Jackie learned that she wasn’t alone. In fact, approximately one in three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.[i]

‘My biggest regret is that I didn’t know I was at risk. I didn’t bother to take the time to learn more about the disease before experiencing shingles myself. I learned the hard way that shingles isn’t just your everyday rash, it can be agonizing.’

Anyone who has gotten chickenpox is at risk of contracting shingles, also known as herpes zoster.[ii] When chickenpox becomes dormant within the nerves, it can reactivate later in life, causing shingles.[iii] Shingles typically presents as a painful, itchy rash that develops on one side of the body and can last for two to four weeks.[iv]

Jackie learned firsthand that shingles doesn’t play favorites. Prior to her diagnosis, she knew nothing about shingles. Now, as a GSK spokesperson, Jackie works to help educate adults about the disease, the severe pain it can cause and the importance of shingles vaccination.

‘There are misperceptions about shingles, and I hope my story will inspire others to be proactive and talk to their doctor about the risk of the disease.’

If you’re 50 years of age and older, talk to your doctor about vaccination against shingles. Vaccination will help reduce the risk of developing shingles and the potential long-term pain from post-herpetic neuralgia, a common complication caused by the disease.

For more information, visit www.ShinglesDoesntPlayFavorites.com.

This is one person’s experience; other people’s experience with shingles may be different.

Content sponsored by GSK.

[i] CDC. Vaccine Information Statements (VISs). Live Shingles VIS. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/shingles.html

[ii] CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster). About Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html

[iii] CDC. CDC Recommends Shingles Vaccine Press Release. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2008/r080515.htm

[iv] CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Signs & Symptoms Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/symptoms.html


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