Talking to Your Doctor About Shingles
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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with shingles. You can take an active role in your care by talking openly and regularly with your doctor.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and ask questions you might not have thought to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what was said. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to discuss whatever is on your mind or to ask how you can obtain more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Am I contagious to others?
- What should I do to avoid passing the virus to others?
- Do I need to avoid people who are ill while I have shingles?
About Your Risk of Developing Shingles
- If I’ve never had chickenpox, would you recommend that I receive the chickenpox vaccine?
- Are there any other precautions I can take to avoid getting shingles?
- Should I consider getting the vaccine that can reduce my risk of developing shingles?
- If I get shingles, could it mean that I have some other condition that has weakened my immune system?
About Treatment Options
- What treatments can relieve my pain and discomfort?
- What treatments can help shorten the duration of this illness?
- What treatments can help prevent complications, including postherpetic neuralgia?
About your medications:
- What are their benefits?
- What are their side effects?
- Might they interact with any other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I’m taking for other conditions?
- Do I need to worry about dizziness or drowsiness while I’m taking these medications?
- Are there any activities I should avoid while taking these medications?
- Are there any alternative or complementary treatments that might relieve my symptoms or prevent the development of complications?
About Your Outlook
- If I get shingles on my face, what can I do to help avoid getting the infection in my eye?
- What signs indicating an eye infection should I look for?
- How likely am I to suffer from complications of shingles, such as postherpetic neuralgia?
- What treatments can you offer me if I do develop complications?
The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/default.htm . Accessed February 21, 2006.
Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, Packer D. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician . 2000;61(8). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000415/2437.html.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ . Accessed February 21, 2006.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Ross Zeltser, MD, FAAD]]>
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