Shingles: It's not limited to older people!

BOISE - You don't see her, but every night on KBOI 2News, you watch her Emmy-nominated work.

Nicole Navarro produces our 10 p.m. newscast.

Between writing the scripts and timing the show, she's always busy.

Long walks with her dogs Apollo and Dexter ease the stress.

But last November, Nicole got so sick even walking with her dogs became impossible.

"The thing that really stuck out to me was that it felt like it was burning," she said. "I felt like my back was on fire."

The fire Nicole first felt was followed by red blotches and painful blistering.

"I thought maybe it was a spider bite," she said.

But it wasn't.

Her doctor's diagnosis was a stunner.

Shingles is caused the by Varicella Zoster Virus, the same bug behind chicken pox.

After an episode with Chicken Pox clears up, the virus remains dormant in the body, but can come back later as shingles.

And it often returns with a vengeance.

"The first thing I thought was, is this normal? Because I hadn't heard of anyone else my age having it," Nicole said.

The virus, which spreads through the nerves, causes excruciating pain.

Nicole couldn't work, lie down, or at times, even move.

You've likely seen the television ads addressing Shingles.

Advertisements feature older people, because shingles is 10 times more likely to hit seniors.

But that's changing.

"In my opinion, over the last 15 years, I certainly have noticed what appears to be an increasing incidence of diagnostic shingles in some of our younger patients," said Dr. Rob Hilvers.


One theory points to the introduction of the Chicken Pox vaccine for kids.

People in their 30's and 40's are no longer coming in contact with the virus.

"And so you and I are no longer getting exposed routinely to Chicken Pox as we're getting older, and that exposure is thought to help boost our immune system to keep our antibodies high," Dr. Hilvers said.

Aging and a weakened immune system are primary triggers.

But any physical or emotional stress can activate shingles.

Some face chronic pain for the rest of their lives.

And there's this fact to consider: 20 percent of people who get Shingles will get it again.

"I do worry about that every time I get sick, if I feel some pain in my back, I worry about it coming back again," Nicole said.

But for now, Nicole's grateful it's gone.

"Not only did it change my perspective on just my health, but also on the important people in my life," she said.

And ours at KBOI-TV.

We're glad she's back... completing our KBOI-TV family.