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Talking to Your Doctor About Shingles

You have a unique medical history. It is important 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 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 information to be repeated, 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

About Shingles

  • 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 length 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 lightheadedness 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 an 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?
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References:

Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113997/Herpes-zoster. Updated September 19, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 2010. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2016 by James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2015

 

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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