Over 80 pc Indian adults underestimate shingles risk: Report

New Delhi, Feb 28 : More than 80 per cent of Indian adults above 50 years of age — a group that is most susceptible to the disease — lack understanding of shingles and its lifetime risk, according to a global report released as part of the ongoing Shingles Awareness Week.

The report by drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is based on a survey conducted among 3,500 adults aged 50 and above from 12 countries, including India.

The findings show that globally, a significantly high proportion of people do not understand the risk of developing shingles, with 86 per cent underestimating the risk.

The survey in India involved 500 participants, with 250 respondents who spoke Hindi and another 250 who spoke English.

In India, 81 per cent of the English-speaking and 86 per cent of the Hindi-speaking people were found to underestimate the risk of shingles. A significant number was also found unaware of the symptoms of the painful condition.

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. As people age, the strength of their immune response to infection wanes, and this increases their risk of developing shingles.

The disease typically presents as rash, with painful blisters across the chest, abdomen, or face. The pain is often described as aching, burning, stabbing or shock-like.

“The survey findings underscore the need to raise awareness about shingles risk in adults over 50. Shingles can significantly disrupt the daily lives of ageing adults and cause them a great deal of discomfort.

“In this Shingles Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to talk to their doctor about this agonising condition and how to prevent it,” Dr Rashmi Hegde, Executive Vice President – Medical Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, India, said in a statement.