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Shingles, Alzheimer's disease

Created date

July 24th, 2012

Q. Why do some people develop shingles but others don't?

A. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles, especially later in life. In fact, 50% of people will have had shingles by the time they are 80 years old. Shingles is a result of a reactivated chickenpox virus, and this reactivation may occur because of several risk factors, including an aging or deficient immune system, an episode of illness, or, in some cases, a stressful event. Researchers, however, do not know why one person with these risk factors may get shingles while another does not. Learning why some people don t develop this painful disease could help scientists discover better ways to prevent it. One way to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine a one-time dose recommended by the CDC for everyone over 60 years old. Although this vaccine does not guarantee immunity, it has been shown to reduce the rate of infection in older adults. It may also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you develop the disease.

Q. My husband and I used to drink a lot of beverages out of aluminum cans and also use aluminum cookware. Now my husband has Alzheimer's disease, and I heard that aluminum could be a cause. Is this true? A. According to the Alzheimer s Association, exposure to aluminum first emerged as a potential cause of Alzheimer s disease starting in the 1960s. Sources such as cans, pots and pans, antiperspirants, and even antacids were viewed with suspicion. Extensive research conducted since then, however, has yielded no evidence of a causative relationship between Alzheimer s disease and exposure to everyday aluminum sources. The cause of this disease is unknown but thought to be associated with someone s genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors. 

Shaveta Kotwal, M.D.

Medical Director, Ponds

Ashburn, Va.

Dr. Kotwal received her medical degree from Jammu Medical College in India. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Prince George s Hospital in Cheverly, Md. Board certified in both internal medicine and geriatrics, Kotwal joined Ashby Ponds in September 2008.