Ask the Doctor: Shingles recovery, COVID loss of taste, RSV vaccines

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 1:41 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every Tuesday on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1 (from Patty): “How long does it take to get through shingles? I am on week three and still feeling pain and burning sensations.”

DR. BOB: Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus called varicella. It is most common in adults and causes a painful rash and blisters, usually in a limited area of the body.

It can be extremely painful. Sometimes, patients think they may be having a heart attack, but it is shingles starting on the chest wall. People can have very different degrees of pain related to shingles.

Usually, the blisters should be scabbed over within a week. Pain can last days to weeks.

Most people do not have any pain after a couple of months. Some people do end up with some chronic pain after an episode of shingles.

Question #2 (from Chris): “If you lost your sense of taste because of COVID, will you ever get it back? It’s been years for me at this point.”

DR. BOB: Unfortunately, your story is not uncommon. A lot of people notice disruptions of taste or smell when they have COVID.

For some people, these symptoms persistent even after the other symptoms resolve. There are many cases of people having problems for years at this point.

At the same time, it is difficult for us to predict what will happen as this is a developing area of research.

It is certainly worth seeing your doctor about this, and I know that some academic centers like Cleveland Clinic are doing some more cutting-edge treatment.

Question #3 (from Josh): “RSV vaccines for older adults will be available this fall. Should we get this along with COVID and flu shots?”

DR. BOB: RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. For most of us, RSV causes the common cold.

Usually, we hear about RSV being a problem in young children who can have trouble breathing if they get the infection. In recent years there has been attention on the effect of RSV on older adults and the risk of hospitalization of death.

The two RSV vaccines that are on the market have both been shown to reduce the risk of symptomatic RSV infection. However, the studies were not designed to see if there is an effect on risk of hospitalization or death.

Thus, at this point the decision to get this vaccine should be discussed with your physician.

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