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Shingles Patients Are Getting Younger

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As devastating as suffering from a medical condition or disease is, there seems to be somewhat of a natural order to things. By this, I am referring to certain conditions that typically only affect a certain demographic of the population. Allow me to explain.

Many illnesses are more likely to affect one person over another, and this can be caused for a multitude of reasons; however, one of the most common factors that seem to determine the likelihood of contracting a disease or ailment is age.

On one end of the spectrum, we have the younger population. While varied, some of the more common types of ailments to affect them include croup, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and chickenpox.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the older population. They are more likely to contract ailments such as Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, heart disease and shingles. However, it seems that in recent years, the younger population is moving more towards the other end of the spectrum, more specifically, with a significant rise in younger people being diagnosed with shingles.

Shingles, to understand it in simple terms, is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus in the body. Sadly, the older a person gets, the more severe the symptoms are. This disease is characterized by a painful, blistering rash and is an infection of the nerve area caused by the varicella-zoster virus, or chickenpox, which lies dormant in a person’s body after they recover.

So what is the cause of this flip in the natural timetable of events?

The theory is simple; adults who had chickenpox as children are not being exposed to it again later in their lives, thus, they’re not getting the boost to their immune system that they need. The result is being more susceptible to contracting shingles.

“What we’re seeing is younger and younger people are having the shingle’s outbreak and having the complications from the shingles,” said Mary Heim, a pharmacist at pharmacy in Grand Rapids.

To many, this news might not appear as a big deal. We do, after all, have a shingles vaccine do we not?

Yes, we do, but the problem is that it is only covered through insurance for people over the age of 50, which leaves out a large part of a growing population that is being diagnosed with the disease.

Thankfully, you can still receive the vaccine at any age; however, it will cost you. When not covered by insurance, the vaccine will put you out $260, but if you were to ask anyone who has suffered from shingles, they will be the first to tell you that it is a small price to pay.

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