[헬스S] Over 50 only? Beware of shingles in your 20s

Reporter Youngchan Choi | VIEW 2,661 | 2023.03.09 05:03

Shingles, which causes multiple blisters and severe pain on the skin, often occurs in people over 50, those with chronic diseases, or people with weakened immunity due to taking immunosuppressants. According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of shingles patients in 2021 reached 725,831, and the age group with the highest number of patients was 55 to 64 years old.

A recent study found that the incidence of shingles in patients with cirrhosis of the liver (cirrhosis of the liver) in their 20s to 40s is increasing. Choi Jong-gi, professor of gastroenterology at Asan Medical Center, compared and analyzed 500,000 adult patients with liver cirrhosis based on big data from the National Health Insurance Service. As a result, it was confirmed that those with cirrhosis of the liver had a 9% higher incidence of shingles and a 48% higher rate of hospital admissions than those without cirrhosis. The results of this study were recently published in the Journal of the American Gastroenterology, an international journal published by the American Society of Clinical Gastroenterology.

As a result of the analysis by age group, the risk of developing shingles was highest in patients with cirrhosis of the liver in their 20s. The incidence of shingles in patients with cirrhosis of the liver in their 20s was 41% higher than in the general population. 16% in their 30s, 17% in their 40s, 8% in their 50s and 60s, and 6% in their 70s. In addition, women, those taking steroids/immunosuppressants, and patients with decompensated cirrhosis of the liver with complications were at increased risk of developing herpes zoster.

Shingles is a disease accompanied by a skin rash and neuralgia when the chicken pox virus, which was infected as a child, remains dormant in nerve cells and is reactivated when the body’s immune system weakens. For the first 2-3 days, you feel an unpleasant sensation, but gradually you feel a sharp pain like being pricked with a needle or cut with a knife. It can be painful to the touch, making it difficult to dress. In addition to neuralgia, headaches, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, numbness in the legs, sleep disorders, and depression can occur, which can interfere with daily life. In severe cases, motor nerves may also be affected and motor function may decline. For this reason, prevention by vaccination is recommended.

Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a symptom where hepatic fibrosis, where scarring builds up in the liver due to long-term damage to liver cells (hepatitis), has developed throughout the liver. When scarring (fibrosis) builds up too much in the liver, blood does not flow well to the liver, and portal pressure in the liver increases, leading to complications of portal hypertension (ascites, varicose veins) . As the number of hepatocytes that can function normally decreases excessively, complications (jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy) occur due to disorders of liver function such as protein synthesis and detoxification.

Professor Choi Jong-gi said, “Since cirrhosis of the liver has a high risk of causing immune dysfunction along with reduced liver function, shingles is considered to develop easily.” As such, it is recommended that patients with cirrhosis be vaccinated against shingles.”


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