We are surprised that so few of our patients realize that a safe and effective vaccination exists for preventing shingles. Despite this knowledge, we’ve not really thought in the past about who is at higher risk of shingles, so we liked this new study that got us to think more about this problem and in a new way.
A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal examined people who have emphysema or lung disease and whether they have a higher risk of getting shingles. Researchers looked at 8,500 patients with lung disease COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), ages 50 and up, and they studied them every year for a total of 10 years. What they found was that this group of people had almost a two times higher risk of developing shingles than people who did not have this lung disease. Sixteen of every 1,000 patients who had lung disease developed shingles, compared to only nine in 1,000 who didn’t have lung disease.
The take-home message of this research is pretty simple: if you have lung disease, like COPD, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, or if you’re over the age of 60, you should talk to your doctor and seriously consider getting a shingles vaccine. From what we know, the benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh the risks, and it will also help to prevent you from getting postherpetic neuralgia, a tremendously painful complication of shingles that can affect your nerve fibers and skin.
We recently did a show on COPD and talked with Dr. Jim Donohue, the Division Chief of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine at UNC. To hear him speak about one of the most frequent causes of illness in the world you can go to https://yourhealthradio.org/listen-to-the-show/ .