Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Health Experts Encourage Filipinos to Be Vigilant Against Shingles

GlaxoSmithKline's Sabi Nila, a campaign about Shingles

Did you know that 86% of adults significantly underestimate shingles risk and potential severity? GSK and health professionals collaborated to establish a countrywide awareness campaign about shingles, a devastating viral infection. The campaign aims to educate the public on its dangers, impact, and prevention. Shingles are often neglected, although they can lead to serious consequences can occur if not treated appropriately, especially in elderly persons. At age 50, the chance of developing shingles increases significantly.

Shingles, or Herpes Zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. Exposure to the chickenpox virus can lead to shingles, as the virus can remain latent in nerve tissue for years before reactivating.

Host Issa Litton; Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr. Rontgene Solante; Dermatologist, Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas; and Geenette Garcia, Suffered from Shingles 4-times; during the panel discussion of “Sabi Nila: The Truth About Shingles” media launch.

The campaign attempts to increase awareness of the condition, its influence on quality of life, and the significance of contacting a doctor for disease prevention. The project aims to clarify myths and give accurate information from healthcare experts and those who have experienced the condition.

Shingles causes a painful skin rash that often blisters and scabs over in 10 – 15 days. 4-5 According to dermatologist Dr. Irene Robredo-Vitas “karamihan talaga ng may shingles and unang una talagang nakakakita ay mga dermatologist”.

Shingles, in addition to causing a rash, has the potential to cause catastrophic problems. Approximately 30% of shingles sufferers will develop chronic nerve discomfort. One in every four shingles sufferers may develop an infection around their eyes, potentially leading to blindness.

According to an infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Rontgene Solante, “shingles is not just an ordinary rash. It has complications that can lead to higher morbidity. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and it can also affect your vision. He further added “a characteristic of shingles is that may tumutubo na mga rashes in one side of the body lang, but the more important characteristic is — ito ay napakasakit. It’s very uncomfortable to the point na yung iba, nahirapan silang mag damit, nahihirapan sila gawin housework nila, daily chores nila because of the severe pain.”

Karen Davila, a journalist and shingles patient, presented her personal experience to highlight the necessity of raising awareness about the condition. I felt depressed. Scared and humiliated. "I have had it twice. I felt depressed, scared, and honestly ashamed. I would not want anybody to go through it."

There are myths and misconceptions surrounding shingles, and one of them is that it is a sexually transmitted disease. According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, “Hindi sexually transmitted ang shingles. because the shingles virus is the same virus that causes chickenpox. When you get older, your immune system goes down and that’s when the chickenpox virus reactivates and can become shingles.”

What most people do not know is that a person's immune system diminishes with age, putting those over 50 at danger, regardless of their overall health. Thus, it is critical to see a healthcare practitioner regarding shingles prevention. But we can do something about it.. Today, we can avoid shingles.

The shingles awareness campaign seeks to arm the public with knowledge through educational materials from health experts. This effort also aims to dispel myths and provide accurate, reliable information, enabling Filipinos to make informed decisions about their health.

These are things to remember with Shingles:

  • Herpes zoster is a common, painful and potentially debilitating illness.
  • Complications of herpes zoster can be severe.
  • There is no good treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia.
  • Herpes zoster is MORE than just a simple rash.
  • There is an urgent need for an intervention that prevents both Herpes Zoster and PHN (Postherpetic neuralgia, the most common long-term complication of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) reactivation. 

Consult your doctor for more information about shingles, and visit www.whatisshingles.ph to learn more. 

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