Shingles can happen to anyone, at any age or any level of health, who has ever in their life had chicken pox. Which means, everyone who has ever had chicken pox is at risk. You have no more than 72 hours to get on antiviral meds to curtail shingles. If you don't get on them within 72 hours you are out of luck and will have to let shingles run its course, in which case you will be at higher risk of long term complications (aka 'forever pain').
Incidents of shingles are on the increase, ironically thanks to the effectiveness of the chicken pox virus. Since we aren't getting re-exposed to chicken pox as adults, our immunity to it wanes and lays the groundwork for the dormant shingles virus inside us to take hold.
Make sure you know what the real tell-tale signs of shingles are:
- A sudden onset of burning unexplained pain, confined to one specific area on only one side of the body.
- The pain will quickly lead to a feeling that the area is in a vice grip; like it's cramping or being squeezed (if you've ever given natural birth, think labor pains in one specific area).
- A day or so after the onset of pain, you may experience numbness over the entire affected area. The numbness does not alleviate the pain - instead it feels like there is a deep layer of pain covered by a more external area of numbness just under the skin.
- A rash may or may not appear and may be quite small if it does. Do not rely on the presence of a rash as your guide. If it's there, it just makes the diagnosis easier; the absence of a rash means nothing either way.