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Kidney failure, shingles vaccine

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November 7th, 2016

Q. What are the early signs of kidney failure?

A. The only true way to know if you have early kidney disease is through laboratory tests. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood, and these tests show if waste products have built up in your system. Until you have significant kidney disease, you are unlikely to show symptoms. Some of these may include weakness, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion, and an abnormal heart rhythm. Kidney failure is a growing problem in the U.S., mainly because of the high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of these conditions damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If you have one of these conditions, see your doctor regularly to make sure they are under control to reduce your chances of developing kidney disease. 

Q. Is it true that the shingles vaccine is not very effective?

A. The shingles vaccine has been proven to reduce your risk of getting the disease by 50%. In addition, people who get shingles after being vaccinated have been shown to have milder rashes and less pain. One out of three people in the U.S. will develop shingles in their lifetime. Half of all cases are in people 60 and older, and your risk rises every year. This disease can be serious in older adults, and lead to scars, vision loss, and chronic residual nerve pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people over 60 who have had chicken pox be vaccinated against shingles. 


Please note: The above questions were submitted by readers. The answers are intended for your general information and should not replace a doctor’s medical advice.

Dr. Zwahlen received both her bachelor’s degree and medical degree from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Mo. She completed residencies in family medicine at Guthrie/Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., and Truman Medical Center East in Kansas City, Mo. She completed a fellowship in geriatrics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.Mex. Zwahlen is board-certified in family medicine with added qualifications in geriatric medicine. She joined Tallgrass Creek in June 2016.

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