I am worried my Aunt may have Shingles but I've never actually seen a real case of Shingles?? What will a doctor do? How is it treated?

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I had the one shot vaccine a few years ago and yesterday got the first shot of the two shot vaccine which has a 90%,efficacy rate...really good. My vaccinations were covered by my health insurance.
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Reply to vegaslady
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My MIL (84, frail, dialysis patient, not diabetic) had a bout of shingles over the holidays. She was prescribed gabapentin for what they thought was neuralgia, then valtrex when the rash broke out and shingles was obvious. We’re not sure which med did it, or maybe the combo, but she declined rapidly. She had been on the gaba about a week, the valtrex for 2 days when just overnight she was unable to walk, stand, or sit erect. She could not form sentences. It was awful. Her GP thought she’d had a stroke and sent her for an MRI, which came back clear. Once we stopped both meds, she recovered slowly. It was about 2 weeks before she was “back.” She has no memory of those 3 or 4 weeks. None.
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Reply to FarmJelly
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My nerve pain was so deep on one side I was convinced it was a twisted ovary. I went to the ER because the pain was so great. They sent me home with antibiotics and vicodin. The rash didn't appear until 2 days later and family doc dx as shingles with one look. But by then the anti-viral ship had sailed, so like mary, I just suffered for 3 weeks in a gabapentin induced fog. Get the vaccine for your LO. I was in such misery -- if this happens to my mother the pain will be so much worse cause she won't understand why.
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Reply to NomadSE
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I have shingles right now. What a horrid pain they cause! The skin with the rash has the nerve pain, so bad that a piece of clothing against it is too painful. I started an anti-viral medication the moment the rash broke out, and I'm also taking Gabapentin for pain, along with Advil on occasion. I have also used Aspercream on the rash. Other than that, I've just been resting and waiting. The anti-viral is supposed to help the shingles heal up and disappear...

I had the "old" vaccination (Zostavax) about five years ago. That vaccine is supposed to make an outbreak less severe. If this is "less severe," I shudder to think what a "severe" attack would be like. This has been a horrible experience for the past two weeks. Today, for the first time, I feel that there may be hope and that the rash and pain are both a little less.

As soon as my shingles go away, which I'm hoping will happen soon, I will get the new vaccine, Shingrex, for which I will have to pay a co-pay of $140 per shot. There are two shots a few months apart. Since I have Medicare and a ridiculously expensive supplement with Humana, one would think the co-pay might be a little less, or that Medicare Part D would cover the vaccine, but that's the amount I've been quoted by Humana and by the drugstore. However, since Shingrex is supposed to help eliminate the possibility of having the nerve pain last for years, I'll take it. Apparently this nerve pain (PHN) has no cure, and there isn't much doctors can do except prescribe pain medication and anti-depressants. I have read that having on-going PHN for years is one of the leading causes of suicide among elders.

For anyone wondering what the outbreak is like before the rash appears, I had a bad pain on my left side for a few days, and I hadn't done anything strenuous to cause this. I went to Urgent Care one day (who thought it might be shingles starting but was unsure and prescribed nothing) and the ER the next day (who diagnosed a muscle strain and prescribed Norco). The night the rash broke out (in the middle of the night) the terrible burning pain woke me up. I actually thought of calling the paramedics, but decided they could do nothing. The next morning I went back to Urgent Care and got the anti-viral medication. I should have started it sooner, I think, but no one prescribed it and I didn't even know about it.

I hope this posting might help someone who wonders what the horrible pain on one side of the body might be. My shingles go from my spine on my back around the middle to my belly button. I'm so grateful they aren't on my face, threatening my eyes!

So take the painful side to a physician, and if there's any chance of shingles beginning, get the anti-viral medication and a pain killer. After that, there's not much to be done except resting and waiting for the attack to disappear.
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Reply to Mary9999
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If you have had chicken pox which most elders have had they can get shingles at any time.
So if anyone had had chicken pox get the vacine ASAP. I tried to do this about ten years ago before it was widely available. Drs could not get it and the health dept told me they had to have 20 people signed up before they could order a vial. Don't you know one week later i woke up with an angry rash under my right breast. Of to the PCP that moring and she ordered an anti viral. Caught it in time to not blister but not soon enough to prevent the nerve pain which still persists sometimes quite painful.Some gabapenten was ordered but that did not work. Since then i have tried Lidocaine gel and that does provide some relief when it is also itching. There are also Lidocaine patches which can help. The pain is sometimes long term or can continue for the rest of ones life.
I still went ahead and got the vacine when it became available because one infection does not prevent a recurrence.
As others have mentioned the sooner you see a Dr the better the outcome. If it occurs on the face round the eye it can actually cause blindness and the pain is far worse.
Not a minor disease.
Never too late to get a chicken pox vaccination.
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Reply to Veronica91
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Get her seen by a doctor soon ..The quicker she starts meds the more chances of the rash stopping at where it is rather than spreading..I had shingles but had no clue as my back had nerve pain I thought I had pulled a muscle got to the doctors he told me to lie down on the table I could not lie down he lifted my sweater I had 2 tiny spots & right away he said you have shingles prescribed Zorvirax & the rash stopped at the 2 spots & nerve pain got better as I took my meds...A year later my son had the same thing but he had got the rash I recognized it right away & sent him off to the doctors...Please get her to the doctor asap to get meds started. You can goggle what the rash looks like on the internet.
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Reply to mollymaid2
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Pain/tenderness beforehand that feels like pulled muscles or bad bruising; then a blistery, sore, itchy rash in a kind of 'swathe' formation, classically in bands on one side of the torso or face.

Antivirals have to be given extremely quickly to work.

I second the point about making sure you mention the possibility of shingles specifically if your aunt sees a generalist. My SIL was at first sent home with some anti-fungal ointment - by a young GP, hadn't seen shingles in real life before, and apparently wasn't using her brain that day.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Lorraine; the important point to remember is that the antivirals have to be started really quickly for them to be effective. I took my husband to Urgent Care; the physician's assistant knew it was shingles as soon as my DH dropped his drawers (it was in an extremely uncomfortable place, on his butt, running down one leg)

One diagnostic clue is that shingles generally is seen only on one side of the body. I think that Jeanne's idea, to call the 24 nurse line that insurance often provides would be a good place to start.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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I had it last year. Luckily not a severe case (well I don't think it was ) I got some Zorvirax (acyclovir) and used that Had to makes sure I did not scratch it . The infection hurts deep down and the pain can last well after the visual sign  (sort of like spread out measles looking) has gone. I took pain relief. All of which can be bought at the pharmacist. Give her a hug from me and hope all goes well for you both.
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Reply to BuzzyBee
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I am recovering from a case now. Have her seen immediately, even if you have to take her to Urgent Care. If it is Shingles, the sooner she starts an antiviral medicine like Valtrex, the better. I understand that it can be very hard on the elderly.
Mine started two weeks ago and the rash is just now drying up, and I have nerve pain in my big toe.
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Reply to Treeartist
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