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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shingles Prevention tips by Heathline.com

Shingles is a painful condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, also known as the chickenpox virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 million cases of shingles have been reported every year in the United States, and almost 1 out of every 3 Americans will develop it once in their lifetime. In some rare cases, an individual can have a second or third episode. Anyone who has recuperated from chickenpox may develop shingles, though it is more prevalent among men and women 60 years of age and older.

Once the chickenpox virus enters the body, it remains dormant in the nerve roots and for some people, it stays dormant forever. However, in some cases it still has the tendency to act up due to aging, increased stress levels or diseases. While it isn’t life-threatening, shingles can cause painful fluid-filled blisters, red rashes and itching. Some people also experience fever, chills, headache and fatigue. Here are several recommendations that can help in preventing shingles:

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Vaccination

Chicken Pox vaccine (varicella) - This vaccine has been a part of the childhood routine for decades, and its intent is to prevent chickenpox from occurring. Not always 100% effective, the vaccine does dramatically decrease the odds of a child contracting the disease. It can also be effective for adults who have never had chickenpox. The vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get shingles or chickenpox, but it can reduce the severity of the disease as well as the complications.
Shingles vaccine (varicella-zoster) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the use of Zostavax, which is a shingles vaccine for people age 60 and older. This vaccine aims to boost the immune system, and protect you against shingles, or even stop it from recurring. Shingles vaccines contain live viruses, and should not be administered to those who have weakened immune systems. This vaccine is also not recommended for those who have an active case of shingles, or those who have severe allergic reaction to some components found in the shingles vaccine. Consult your doctor before making a decision to get vaccinated.


Nutritional Supplementation

Vitamin B12 - This vitamin can be very helpful in preventing the development of severe cases of shingles, especially if it’s injected. This can also be taken as an oral supplement, though it may not be enough to fight off the shingles virus. B12 shots work better if given early, upon the onset of the infection, and it is extremely safe even if it’s administered several days in a row. This essential vitamin helps in preventing nerve damage and mitigating nerve pain linked with postherpetic neuralgia.
Vitamin C - Intravenous vitamin C is another treatment for more significant infections, which can also be administered along with B12 injections. This vitamin helps in supporting the immune system in a number of ways. It works by protecting the vitamin E in the body as well as an antiviral, which strengthens the functionality of white blood cells in fighting off infections. The body can absorb limited amounts of vitamin C orally, but when it is administered using intravenous treatments, concentrations can reach much higher levels in the blood stream. Bioflavonoids can also help in improving vitamin C absorption in the body.
Vitamin E - This vitamin also plays an important part in supporting the immune system. It protects the cells against viral attacks, and acts as an antioxidant that prevents nerve damage responsible for residual pain. It also aids in tissue repair and healing, which can minimize scarring.
Vitamin A - Vitamin A helps in fighting off infection by increasing the body’s infection-fighting cells during an outbreak. It also boosts the immune system and promote rapid healing.
L-lysine - This amino acid has been proven effective in interrupting the virus from replicating by competing with its need for amino acids l-arginine, which result in reduced severity and duration of the symptoms.
Selenium - Selenium used to be a toxic substance, but modern science confirms that small amount can be beneficial to our health. This mineral has been found to be helpful in fighting off infections by stimulating the antibody response and promoting more energy in the body. Selenium works better with vitamin A, E, and beta-carotene.
Probiotics - Probiotics, or Lactobacillus Acidophilus, are good bacteria that is essential in keeping the digestive system healthy. This is necessary in having a good immune system, which can lower your risk against infections, like shingles.


clip_image003David Novak is an internationally syndicated columnist, covering lifestyle and health matters. His byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications, discussing health, wellness, diet and fitness. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline. To visit his other stories on Healthline, visit http://www.healthline.com/.

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