Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Shingles Party

Five things I have discovered since last week:

1. The expression "How's your belly off for spots?" is a Northern greeting equivalent to "how are you?" to someone with whom you are on familiar terms. A comprehensive answer
referring to the belly in question is not required or expected.

2. You can't catch Shingles - it is actually "The Return of The Chicken Pox Virus". It sits in your nervous system after you have chicken pox for 60 or 70 years and then suddenly decides to re-emerge as an unwelcome episode of shingles. It only affects one side of the body.

3. You can catch chicken pox from shingles if you come into direct contact with the spots (which contain the Varicella Zoster virus, named after the gravel voice sexpot radio presenter). Pregnant women have to avoid such direct contact at all costs as Chicken Pox can affect their foetus.

4. There is an effective vaccine against Shingles which is offered to anyone over 70. In the USA it is more widely offered to those aged 60 and above.  You can be vaccinated in the UK at any age privately for £100-£200. 

5. It can be relieved by the taking of prescription anti-viral drugs which were largely developed in response to the Aids epidemic of the 1980's. It's very itchy at night. 


Tim said...

Oh gawd, I had something very like it a few months ago, I know (roughly) how you feel. Turned out it wasn't actual shingles, due to it having sprouted left and right. How weird is that - a right- or left-handed illness??

Liz said...

I had shingles 5 years ago and learned most of the same things you have learned, although I didn't know there was a vaccine. I initially assumed that the first spot was a bite of some sort so I'd had it for nearly a week before I went to the doctor. I was told that the anti-virals might not because I'd had symptoms for more than 72 hours, but they did work brilliantly. My spots were all at the top of one leg so there was no danger of anyone else coming into contact with them but it did mean I was confined to wearing pyjamas or Sir Bruin's boxer shorts because I couldn't bear any underwear that touched the spots. I stayed off work for a week, feeling like crap (and unable to sit down for several days).

I don't know why shingles is assumed to only affect older people; I was 42 when I had it, my Dad was in his late 30s when he had it and my god-daughter was only 18 when she had it. I can remember my Dad being laid up for weeks when he had shingles so I know I got off lightly. I hope your anti-virals are as effective as the ones that I had and that you feel better soon.

Rog said...

Tim: It may have been Shingles that had turned into Doubles?

Liz: Thanks for that. It's surprising how prevalent it is - 25% of the population will get it at one stage or another and although the most likely age is 70+ it does affect all ages. I've been very lucky because the anti-viral meds have reduced the inflammation considerably so I've just been carrying on as normal. No need to avoid people as that's my default position anyway ;-)

Anonymous said...

Bloody awful thing Rog, hope you are continuing to improve.

Nota Bene said...

We have shingles on Brighton Beach...most people prefer sand...

Z said...

My gardener got it behind his eye, which was pretty awful. The thought worries me. I know rather more women than men who've suffered from shingles, but then it could be because men never make a fuss about illness, so fewer of them mention it.

Rog said...

Jon: I think I'm already better thanks!

Nota: I may have to wear flip flops.

Z: I've certainly been very lucky to get away so lightly. Mike said his father had declared his shingles as a worse experience than being shot up in the War.