Shingles and other risks you should be aware of

Roughly one third of us will experience shingles in our adult lives, so it could be something you or a loved one has experienced. However, a survey revealed that relatively few of us consider ourselves at high risk; and most of us have not discussed it with a doctor.

We may not realise that shingles is not “just a rash”, and can in fact lead to other health complications.

A more common yet little known complication of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic and debilitating form of nerve pain, which is difficult to treat and can persist long after the rash has healed, lasting on average for 3.5 years.

The risk and severity of PHN increases with age, with those aged 50 years and over most likely to go on to develop PHN.

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Ophthalmic shingles – when shingles occurs around the eye area – can affect up to a quarter of people who get shingles. It can lead to infection and inflammation of the eye, and, in rare cases, vision loss.

A recent study has found that shingles is also associated with an increased risk of stroke in the first weeks following diagnoses, with the risk tailing off after a period of 6 months.

While not everyone who gets shingles will go on to experience complications, many people may not be aware that shingles can sometimes be more than “just a rash”. So be sure to speak to your doctor if you’d like to understand more about shingles and your risk.

If you would like to know more about your risk of shingles and related complications, please speak to your doctor. 

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