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Diseases more prevalent in advanced age.
There are new statistics and information about infectious diseases in older Americans. Today, over 40% of deaths in older Americans are related to infectious diseases which could be prevented.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, they enrolled over 38,500 adults 60 years of age or older in double-blind trials for vaccines to prevent Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia.
Herpes zoster is commonly referred to as Shingles. This virus has been found to be dormant chickenpox. Many Americans had chickenpox as a childhood disease.
This virus becomes dormant (inactive) in certain nerves of the body after you have the childhood disease. As we get older, this virus becomes active again, but what activates it is still unclear.
Shingles is a painful virus which develops blisters which may break open to form sores which form crusts. These blisters are can be very painful without the correct treatment.
The ability for your physician to start early treatment can have a pronounced effect on the virus spreading throughout the body. It spreads through the nerves and lymph nodes primarily but can be spread through physical contact.
These blisters when broken through scratching, will produce a liquid which spreads to other parts of the body.
If these blisters are present on the face, you may experience drooping eyelids, loss of eye motion, taste problems and other symptoms.
Treatment would include antihistamines to reduce the itching, pain medications if pain is present, and Zostrix. Zostrix is a topical cream to apply to the infected skin. This cream could also reduce the risk of postherpetic neuralgia.
Of course your health provider probably will prescribe an antiviral drug to reduce pain, prevent complications, and reduce the length of the infection in your body.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a term used for pain which lasts for more than a month due to the singles infection. Since shingles damages the nerves in your body, this pain may develop and remain for months following an outbreak. Pain is more likely to occur in people over the age of 60.
Postherpetic neuralgia may range from very severe to mild. This pain is known to be constant or come and go. Symptom will include deep aching, burning, stabbing or an electrical shock type sensation.
The New England Journal of Medicine’s test on 38,500 adults reported 957 cases of herpes zoster. Among the 957; 315 had the vaccine and 642 who were given a placebo medication. Results showed the vaccine reduced the possibility of the herpes zoster by 61.1 percent.
In the same test, 66.5 percent of the participants had postherpetic neuralgia (mild to severe pain) reducing by over 51 percent.
The conclusion, particularly adults over 60 should locate local pharmacy to receive the vaccine. Morbidity was also drastically reduced by those taking the vaccine.
For more information on the tests see the New England Journal of Medicine online at www.nejm.org.
More information on postherpetic neuralgia may be found at www.ncbi.nlm.gov online.