Shingles Symptoms Tied To Asthma

March 13, 2012

Usually, shingles symptoms affect the elderly, who are prone to suffer from a weakened immune system as they age. Younger people often only suffer from shingles symptoms when their immune system is weakened—by severe stress or another illness.

Now asthma has been specifically tied to childhood cases of shingles—children with asthma are more than twice as likely to develop shingles symptoms.

Asthma, a chronic condition involving blocked and constricted airways, is caused by an unlucky combination of genes and environmental factors. But having that chronic inflammation can weaken the immune system—especially if the environmental factors are ongoing (stress can be one), making the link between asthma and shingles symptoms logical.

There are two main shingles symptoms: blisters, and pain (which can last after the blisters). Just like with the chicken pox, it’s important not to scratch—although with the pain, you’re less likely to itch.

For anyone who hasn’t had chicken pox, shingles symptoms are contagious. For everyone else, exposure boosts the immune system against recurrent shingles symptoms.

Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!:


Sandra October 5, 2015 at 11:48 pm

My mum died suddenly years ago from a severe asthmatic attack. She was just getting over shingles in the head and eye and for the last few days of her life had to sleep in the loungeroom in a chair because she had reflux as well. My ex sister-in-law gave my parents a lot of angst in the last decade of their lives disassociating them from their only son and at times their grandchildren. Because of this, mum suffered from severe stress, especially towards the end of her life (the last two years she had been banned from seeing her grandchildren). I believe the stress brought on the shingles and the shingles brought on the asthmatic attack. Your article gives the impression that adult shingles is not linked to asthma. Just wondering what to think of that, because I was always under the impression that there was a link between mum’s fatal attack and her severe shingles. Perhaps the link had more to do with the reflux. Just not sure what to think now.

Emma Spera May 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm

You are the parent. If you aren’t sure, it’s ALWAYS acceptable to put your child’s health first. Trust your instincts. It’s not bad to be on the safer side of things.

I would factor in your son’s age. Under two, I wouldn’t risk the exposure. Over maybe 12, I wouldn’t risk the exposure (chicken pox is more serious post-puberty). If your son’s between 2-12, I’d ask myself how serious it would be if he got chicken pox. Probably more than normal because of his weakened immune system—and if it’s weakened enough that it’s the reason he never got the chicken pox vaccine, I probably wouldn’t risk them getting actual chicken pox.

You can also consider what kind of vacation it will be, and how close of contact your son will have. Sharing a hotel room? Same house? Swimming together (exposed skin, possible roughhousing?)? If there’s not going to be close contact, and your son is of an age where he isn’t a wild toddler anymore (trying on other people’s shoes, climbing on people, etc.) then that’s a much lower risk of exposure.

Finally, consider what type of doctor you have. Is he generally nonchalant? Overly cautious? What’s your relationship with him, did you feel like he took your concerns seriously before telling you it was ok? How often does he see your son?

After considering all that, do what makes you most comfortable.

heidi May 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

My son has asthma and is on chortisteriods that weaken his immune system. He has not had the chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine. A family member was just diagnosed with shingles last week and is on antiviral medication. We are supposed to have a family vacation this weekend. SHould I cancel? I am finding mixed messages on what to do. The dr said it was ok, but, I am not sure if I am comfortable with that answer.

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