Causes and body parts affected
In order to get shingles, an individual must first contract chicken pox. In my case, my parents deliberately exposed me to chicken pox when I was about four so I could just be done with it. The varicella zoster virus then lies dormant in nerve cells. Usually, reactivation of the virus is prevented by the body's immune system, especially T cells. However, when the immune system is compromised for some reason varicella zoster can recur as shingles...
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...l, p. 44-46).
There is a shingles vaccine, which is a concentrated version of the chicken pox vaccine. However, it will not prevent shingles in all of the people who receive it. In a three year trial, vaccinated patients were 50% less likely to get shingles than the placebo group and almost 2/3 less likely to experience PHN. The Center for Disease Control recommends the vaccine for those over 60 (Nalamachu & Morley-Forster, p. 864-865). There are relatively few risks associated with the vaccine for people with normal immune systems making even the incomplete protection offered by the vaccine better than no protection from this painful disease.
Recurrence of shingles is uncommon so I will try to stop worrying that it is coming back every time I feel a little tired and get some back pain. However, it is hard to forget something so painful and uncomfortable!
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