Some people have such mild symptoms of shingles that they don't seek medical treatment. At the other extreme, severe symptoms may result in a visit to the emergency room.
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- A detailed description of your symptoms
- Information about your medical problems, past and present
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
Preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your limited time with your doctor. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For shingles, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What treatment do you recommend? How quickly will I start to feel better?
- What if my symptoms don't improve?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic or over-the-counter alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What caused me to develop shingles?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions any time you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will examine your rash and may ask some of the following questions:
Sep. 01, 2011
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Does anything make them better or worse?
- Do you know if you've ever had chickenpox?
- Shingles: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/detail_shingles.htm. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Shingles: Clinical overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Habif TE. Herpes zoster. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Ferri FF. Herpes zoster. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Shingles vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-shingles.pdf. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Albrecht MA. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. http://uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Albrecht MA. Clinical manifestations of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. http://uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- FDA approves Zostavax vaccine to prevent shingles in individuals 50 to 59 years of age. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Zostavax (prescribing information). Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co.; 2011. http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/z/zostavax/zostavax_pi2.pdf. Accessed June 24, 2011.