Awareness raised on shingles, and on how to prevent the disease

Cai Wenjun
Educational events are held during the World Shingles Awareness Week, aiming to raise awareness, encourage early prevention, reduce incidences and improve public health.
Cai Wenjun

As part of World Shingles Awareness Week, a series of educational events are being held to increase public understanding of the infectious disease, increase early prevention, reduce incidences and improve public health.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. The disease usually affects people over the age of 50, severely affecting their health and quality of life due to the severe pain.

Almost every Chinese person in that age group carries an inactive form of the virus with the potential to activate. Every year, approximately 1.56 million Chinese people over the age of 50 are diagnosed with the disease.

"Shingles can occur at any age in adulthood, but the risk increases dramatically after the age of 50," said Dr Du Xueping of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association's general physician branch. "Even if people stay healthy after the age of 50, their risk of shingles increases, especially among those with underlying diseases or weakened immunity."

Awareness raised on shingles, and on how to prevent the disease

The older the patient, the more serious the condition and the slower the recovery. Many elderly people have underlying diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and shingles pain can lead to increased pain and more serious complications, according to experts.

"The first three days after exhibiting symptoms are the golden time for treatment. We have found a rising number of patients with shingles in outpatient service, which may be related to poorer immunity caused by the rising workload and pace after the New Year holiday, fatigue caused by entertainment and traveling, as well as elderly people's own underlying diseases," said Dr Cui Yong of China-Japan Friendship Hospital.

Shingles prevention is critical, according to experts. Vaccination for people over the age of 50 is an effective measure, and grassroots medical facilities can play an important role in shingles prevention and control by providing health education, consultation, and vaccination programs to protect the elderly from shingles.

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