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What you should know about shingles

Statistically, one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime. What many people don’t know is that the majority of adults carry the virus that can trigger this disease after contracting chickenpox. In addition to old age and illness, both ongoing physical and psychological stress can be a trigger for shingles – since a permanently elevated cortisol level weakens the immune system. But even those who avoid severe nervous stress, eat healthily and exercise sufficiently can develop shingles.

Shingles is one of the most common diseases – about one in three people will develop it during their lifetime. PD dr medical Michael A. Überall, medical doctor and President of the German Pain League eV, explains who is particularly at risk of developing shingles:

“In fact, the risk of developing shingles in Germany is just over 30%, with women being affected more often than men. The most important risk factor is age, which is naturally associated with a weakening immune system. However, there is also an increased risk with all other forms of immune deficiency, for example in people directly after a COVID-19 infection or in people with a tumor disease. The number of people who contract shingles in Germany every year is currently over 400,000. However, after surviving chickenpox in childhood, almost every adult carries the triggering varicella-zoster virus – one can therefore assume that the theoretical risk of developing shingles, especially in the over 60-year-olds, is 100% .”

What are the symptoms of shingles?

Usually there are signs such as tiredness, body aches, general malaise or even a slight fever that signal to those affected that something is wrong. About two to three days later, the typical symptoms of shingles appear: These often include burning, stabbing pain and an unpleasant skin rash, which usually spreads on the trunk or in the lumbar area like a belt on one side of the body. Complications such as B. long-lasting nerve pain. To avoid long-term consequences, early drug treatment is important (therapy is most effective if started within the first three days after the onset of symptoms). However, it is best to find out about the prevention options before a possible outbreak of shingles.

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