The shingles warning we all need to hear!

In 2012, a 39-year-old mother of three ignored a painful ear rash and get on with her busy day. This

In 2012, a 39-year-old mother of three ignored a painful ear rash and get on with her busy day. This decision had devastating effects and led to her inability to swallow for almost four years. Her story serves as a timely reminder to always have rashes and changes in your body checked by a doctor.

Daily Mail reports that Samantha Anderson, from Brisbane, woke one morning and choked on her breakfast. As a small business owner she didn’t have time to see a doctor so ignored these alarm bells and continued working. By lunch and even dinner she still couldn’t swallow her food.

She decided to sleep it off and told Daily Mail Australia, “At first when I went to bed I thought to myself ‘I am going wake up tomorrow and eat breakfast like a normal person.'”

It would be another two days before she sought medical advice from a doctor.

She was initially miss diagnosed with stress and then depression. But Ms Anderson noticed a rash behind her ear a few days earlier, which she had put cold sore cream on.

This rash turned out to be Shingles, although it temporarily disappeared from the cold sore ointment, the virus itself was still wreaking havoc internally.

“The rash just looked like 50 tiny coldsores so I put some cream on it and didn’t think much of it because after a few days it went away,” she said.

She wants to use this as a warning for others to not ignore symptoms, saying that if she had her ear looked at and a correct diagnosis made from that, she probably would have been fine within days.

“‘I was never the kind of person to rush to the doctors, but that isn’t brave it is stupid,” she said.

According to Health Direct Australia, shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is the same one that causes chickenpox. It develops an itchy, blistering rash usually first seen on the face, chest, back, abdomen or pelvis.

It is extremely common in Australia, being especially concerning for those over the age of 50. Approximately 1 in 100 Australians older than 50 will have shingles at some stage in their life.

As it is a viral infection there is no cure, but if it treated with antiviral medication within three days of the rash appearing the impact can be lessened and may prevent complications.

Unfortunately Samantha did not recognise symptoms and she suffered for six months without knowing what was causing her symptoms, chocking 60 to 80 times per day and losing a staggering 45kgs.

Eventually she was tested for shingles after doctors asked about any rashes she may have noticed on her body before other symptoms.

She has suffered through years of being unable to swallow, had to be fed through a peg connected to a container for over a year, and will never be able to swallow the same again.

Her story comes as a timely reminder to always seek medical advice if you notice changes in your body.

Have you ever had Shingles?

More information on shingles symptoms can be found at

  1. Lea Sumner  

    I suffered from this virus was hospitalised for eight months unable to move, had to learn to walk again .Two years on still walk with a stick and will be on anti vitals for the rest of my life.Dont ignore simple signs

  2. Marie Sillars  

    I had shingles 12 months ago. I had a painful rash on my arm and luckily I showed my Doctor immediately. It took a long time to go away and was extremely painful. In a way it was lucky that I found it as it led to a diagnosis of an Auto Immune problem that I have had for some years. As you age I find it is very important to talk to your Doctor about anything that seems unusual

  3. Linda  

    I woke with a slight rash following the line of my bra. Having severe chick pox in my younger days, I recognized the rash and went to the doctor immediately. He have me steroids and an anti-virus. Thankfully, I caught it in time, but still had pain for several weeks, and still have residual pain, but nothing as bad as it could have been if I hadn’t gotten to the doctor. WHEN IN DOUBT….GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR.

    • I had shingles several years ago, rash on my lower back & thigh. Thankfully saw the doctor straight away & treatment worked, but I still get residual burning sensation in those areas from time to time. I had chicken pox as a child & doctor said stress had caused shingles to flare up. Very painful while it lasted.

  4. Julie  

    I had shingles when I was 29, now 66. My baby was only 9 mths and my husband noticed a rash across my back, waist area. It turned out the rash progressed in a one day period to right around my body except for about 8 cms under my breasts. I continued to breastfeed, but he pain of the rash was like being squeezed tightly around my body. More painful than the childbirth 9 mths earlier!! My doctor gave me the strongest painkillers I could have without being in hospital. My other two children were only 5 and 3. My doctor asked if they had had chicken pox, when I said “no,” he said , “well expect them in about 3 weeks” and he was spot on!! The same virus!! Of course children receive vaccinations for chicken pox now.

  5. Gail Raad  

    I didn’t know much about shingles when I got it and even if I did I don’t think I would have related the symptoms to shingles anyway…..the first symptom I got was an intermittent pain on my right side just below where my bra sits and this went on for a few days and the only way I could describe it to my husband was to say, “the pain is like a 100 little needles stabbing me at once, from the inside”….I think it wold probably be around the 5th day I woke up with the rash and made an appointment to see my GP, who confirmed it was shingles and prescribed the anti viral medication…..I think from memory it lasted around 6 weeks, but still to this day I get pain in that same area. Since then my husband also got shingles about 12 months later and more recently my son, who is married and doesn’t live with us, also got it, but the rash turned black and has left a darkened area of skin where the rash was…..both my husband and myslef were left with no marks.

  6. Glenda  

    I also had shingles on side of my nose and heading up to inner corner of my eye fortunately l had a doctors apt that day for another reason and doctor straight away took biopsy and put me on medication to prevent severity of shingles l was lucky l got it early blisters took few weeks or so to totally go and l got one shingle on inner eyelid which thankfully healed l now left with watery eyes that run on windy days heaps.

  7. Having seen several friends suffer for long periods with shingles I was well aware of the symptoms . ,I awoke one morning to an Itchy eye .Later I noticed a rash creeping up my forehead .My immediate thought was “SHINGLES”and despite being busy I took the time to consult my GP . since it was less than 72 hours since the symptoms first appeared , I was given an injection .and some ointment to use . within a week, there was no sign of the infection .
    2 years later I developed a rash on my chest ,.Again straight to the GP, good news you can’t get shingles twice, it was just a minor allergy rash .
    My advice to anyone even SUSPECTING shingles go to the doctor for treatment and suggest to the doctor that it IS shingles as many of them can misdiagnose, much better to be sure than suffer the pain and discomfort .

    • Christine Evans  

      You can get Shingles more than once. I have had them 3 times. All diagnosed by a Dr.

    • Gigi  

      I have had shingles 3 times, all in different places but medically tested and documented cases.

    • Jeannie Elliott  

      I have heard of several people having shingles more than once

    • Liana  

      You can get shingles more than once

    • You can get shingles twice. I am the proof. There is now a vaccination offered which apparently lessens symptoms. I am going to have it.

    • Shingles can and do re-occur just as you can have chicken pox more than once and both can be quite severe each time. Personal experience. Glad you’res was just an easy get rid of rash second time.

    • Bob Shelton  

      I don’t know why the doctor told you you can’t get it twice because you can I’ve had it 3 times on the side of my face and twice on my back

    • Cathryn Hunt  

      Correction, you can get shingles more than once! Friend had it 3 times in 3 years – turns out she had cancer so her immune system was run down

    • Melissa Hebbard  

      Ian, that is quite wrong that you can’t get shingles twice. I have had it twice and it can keep recurring throughout your life, especially when under stress.

    • Jenny  

      You can get shingles more than once I have had it three times once very severe and the other times weren’t as bad But now I suffer from PHN post hearpetic neuralgia which I get when the chickenpox virus is around and also when I’m run down, it’s so painful , no rash but pain. And nothing for it except pain killers to make it a bit. So get checked early so you can get the it seen to

    • Dianne Patchett  

      Hi Ian, My husband had shingles many years ago, in the neck area, he’s also suffering from them again around the tummy area at the moment, so one can get the twice, sorry…. I still suffer from shingle pain 4 years down the track, from when i had a very bad bout of them, just horrid shocking thing to come down with…. Cheers Di.

    • Andrea Cush  

      You can get shingles more than once!!!!!my husband has now had vaccination after I had them on my face and head

    • Cheryl  

      Sorry to disappoint you, but I have had shingles twice quite a few years apart. Once on the stomach and last one on the wrist.

    • Dee  

      I have lost count of the times I have had shingles, used to get it every year always in the same place.

  8. Leonard Williams  

    I also have had Shingle at age 76. I had a very bad headache that went on for several days, like someone stabbing me in the head with a knife every few seconds. I then had a rash appear on the bottom of my nose and lips, also felt like a whole lot of little bubbles inside the roof of my mouth. Went to doctor who straight away diagnosed shingles and gave me strong medication which cleared it up. He also sent me for a scan on my head which showed severe swelling on one side, thus the pain. Recovered eventually but really knocked the stuffing out of me for ages with no energy to do anything which is not like me as I am always very active. This was about two years ago and still feel the after affects in my head occasionally.

  9. Fay  

    I got shingles about 3 and a half years ago. It started with a very painful/uncomfortable feeling in my right armpit. There was a tiny red mark about the size of a mosquito bite. I did not recognise the symptoms. A day later I had pain under my shoulderblade on taking a deep breath which I thought was possibly pleurisy so I went to the Drs. It still went unrecognised. The following day I was VERY sick. Vomiting, headaches, shaking, severe pain, but no rash to speak of except for the tiny mark under my arm. I thought I may have been bitten by something while gardening. I continued to deteriorate and my husband took me to hospital. They could not diagnose the problem until I mentioned the “bite”. By then the rash had started to increase, but only slightly. The biggest damage was occurring on the inside however. I suffered nerve damage, lost most of my hearing in my right ear, and still suffer stinging pain in my right armpit and upper arm. For about 6 months I really wanted to die due to the pain and increased sensitivity in my right arm, chest, back head and neck. I could not wear clothes and spent 6 months in my dressing gown. Cold packs were the only thing which gave me some relief. Don’t hesitate to get checked out for this horrible virus if in doubt. If you have had chicken pox you are at risk.

    • Sandra Kirby  

      Same happened to me , I thought it was a spider bite and ignored it !! The most painful experience of my life !! Still taking tablets for the pain and that was 18mnths ago Never want to go through that again I went and had an injection which is supposed to prevent it from reoccurring cost $210 but worth it!!

    • Alain Louise Caroline  

      You poor darling Fay, that sounds horrendous. I hope you are feeling much better soon.

  10. When I was about 3 my mothed was admitted to hospital with a severe attack of chickenpox. A week or so later I developed shingles, our GP was quite shocked as I was so young, and sent me to Guys hospital for a 2nd opinion. Yes, shingles!

  11. Kris  

    I got Chicken Pox at the age of 40. It seems I had “3” as a kid. It was absolutely awful especially when I was home with kids and had to go through my daily routine as well as deal with this. I have since found a rash on my arm, back and stomach (where it normally occurs). Luckily I did go to the doctor and have the ointment which is make it subside but it doesn’t disappear in a hurry so you have to endure continuous scratching. Not good but I did take action.

  12. I had shingles in my eye – happened on a Sunday – found a clinic open and a Doctor who knew what it was. Medication administered quickly including a visit to the Eye and Ear Hospital then GP for a referral to an eye specialist. Very painful condition extending to my scalp but quick treatment saved my sight.

    • Ken Parsons  

      I had shingles 6 years ago which developed into phn which is cronic damage to the nerves in my right hand little
      finger.I was told it would go away in two years but is still with me just bearable. I was a Jazz Drummer but had to
      give it up . Unfortunatly I was to late to receive the anti viral enjection within the first 72 hour period

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