Vaccine for shingles has limitations
When awakening with red bump on forward, 55 year old Kathy Yager, simply chalked it off to a mosquito bite. Unfortunately, for Kathy this was not the case as a day later she had three painful welts above her right eye. Kathy’s practitioner had informed her she had shingles. To her surprise she had learned what many people do not realize, you do not need to be senior to have shingles.
Kathy was on antiviral treatment immediately. However, the painful blister still had continued to spread.
Hating to see his wife this miserable, her husband asked the practitioner for the shingles vaccine, Zostavax. Upon this request he had learned that the vaccine is available for those older than 60 and had to purchase the vaccine “off label” with a $280 bill attached.
Off label medications are prescribed for a purpose not listed on the products label. This is a common and accepted practice by practitioners. As long as these drugs are prescribed by a practitioner they are legal and may be essential for optimal care in many conditions.
There are nearly one million cases of shingles each year in the U.S., affecting one in three people. Even though the largest percent of cases affect those sixty and older, anyone who has had chicken pox is at risk due to the triggering virus “herpes zoster” is the same.
The virus is dormant in the nerve cells of the spinal cord. Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center states that when it awakens, it travels along those nerves to the bodies surface, producing a stripe of blisters that look much like shingles on the roof.
The rash typically forms in a single stripe curling around the right or left side of the body. However, it can be on the face, where in severe cases can leave disfiguring scares and threaten the vision.
The virus under the skin can damage and even kill the nerve endings, causing postherpetic neuralgia known as post-shingles pain.
Dr. Schanffner states that some people have a little, however, some have a lot that it hampers their life. A minor irritation such as a slight breeze through a shirt can set off pain so excruciating that some people with post-shingles pain contemplate suicide.
The pain endure is very hard to treat and can last for several months and on occasion even years. Dr. Schaffner states so shingles and post-shingles is one thing you want to avoid.
The FDA has in fact approved the Zostavax vaccine for people who are older than age 60 and have had chicken pox in 2006. The one shot vaccine decreases the risk of shingles by 55%, as noted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in a January 12th study.
Among the 52 million people in the U.S., older than 60 years, only ten percent have had the shot.
Dr. Schanffner states that a lot of people are not aware of the shingles vaccine and in all actuality a lot of practitioners are not aware of it either. Even for the practitioners do know about it, promoting it is at a lull do the fact is hard for people on Medicare to obtain the vaccine.
Medicare will cover the shot which runs about $160 but for those who are older than 65 and under Plan D. To receive reimbursement for the shot is difficult process. In comparison to the flu shot, practitioners are able to stock, administer and charge for it. For the Zostavax, they need to prescribe it and send the patient to the pharmacy to obtain it.
Some pharmacies will administer the shot. For those who will not, this leaves the patient toting it back to the practitioners office.
Dr. Schanffner remarks this is a horrible system. Dr. Schanffner compares the vaccine to a Jaguar which is kept in a garage.
Manufacturing of the vaccine is not without its own problem. Merck who makes the vaccine reports that there is a shortage of an essential ingredient, a live but weakened chicken pox virus. Merck has inquired of the FDA to expand the recommendations to include people aged 50 to 59 years old.
Shingle cases in those under 50 is rare but can occur. It seems to affect younger people with a weakened immune system, for those who live vaccines are not suggested due to the possibility of awakening the virus.
There are some alternative treatments which may help with shingles. Here are a few:
Lemon Balm has been noted to help with the pain from shingles. Use two teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. Apply the tea directly on the rash with a cotton ball. Do this several times throughout the day.
Red pepper in the form of Capzasin-P cream, available over the counter. It blocks pain signals from the nerves under the skin.
Acupuncture treatments are to strengthen the immune system which is the main cause of shingles. The areas of treatment depend on where the outbreak is located. Treatments are based on where the lesions intervene the meridians. It is known to be effective to decrease pain.
Chinese herbal formulas could be helpful for early and advanced cases. One formula is Long Dan Yie Gan Wan.
Many patients who suffer from shingles have found that by keeping their stress levels reduced it keeps the virus at bay from becoming active. So many opt for chiropractic care on a regular basis. The adjustments aide to balance stress in the nervous system. The reduction in stress levels will prevent outbreaks and if one should occur the body can recover quicker.
Making paste out of turmeric powder and apply to infected areas. Will decrease pain and speed up recovery.
Crush two aspirins and blend with two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and apply to lesions three times daily. Provides pain relief by desensitizing nerve endings.
An Ayurveda practitioner can provide you with various treatments for shingles.
Bach Flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy cream possibly can give relief from pain.
Bach Flower remedies for stress such as Bach Flower remedy inpatients or Bach Flower treatment with elm.
A few places in or near Detroit
20020 Conant Street
Detroit Community Acupuncture
4100 Woodward Avenue
Acupuncture & Herbs Miracle (Chinese Medicine Practitioner)
23700 Orchard Lake Road Suite K
A & L Chiropractic Center
24281 Middlebelt Road
Vesprini Chiropractic Life Center
12912 East Eight Mile Road
GNC (Bach Flower Remedies)
13939 Livernois Street
Healing Goddess LLC (Ayurveda)
23023 Orchard Lake Road