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Risk Factors for Complications With Shingles

Other Shingles Complications

There are a number of other possible complications that can occur with shingles. Some of these may include:
  • Spreading of the shingles virus. For example, up to 50 percent of people with Hodgkin's disease who develop shingles can have the shingles virus spread to the lungs or brain. Loss of life occurs in up to 25 percent of these patients.
  • Infection.
  • Scarring.
  • Muscle weakness.

Who Is at Risk for Shingles Complications?

Anyone who gets shingles can develop complications. However, there are certain groups of people who are at a higher risk for developing shingles complications. These groups of people most often are immunosuppressed (meaning their immune response is inadequate). Regardless of why the person is immunosuppressed (HIV, cancer [such as Hodgkin's disease], medications, etc.), a person with an inadequate immune response has an increased risk of serious complications from shingles.
Age also seems to play a role in the chances for developing shingles complications. For example, about one-third of forty-year-olds with shingles will develop postherpetic neuralgia. Up to 75 percent of seventy-year-olds will develop postherpetic neuralgia.
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