Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Is chicken pox dangerous in adulthood?"
I'm a 38 year old guy and have never had chicken pox. Can I get it at this age? Would it be dangerous?
Chicken pox is caused by varicella, which is a virus. Infection with the virus used to be quite common, but now in countries like the United States most children have never had chicken pox due to widespread vaccination against varicella at routine pediatric check ups. The symptoms of varicella infection or chicken pox in adults are generally similar to those in children - fever, feeling under the weather, and breaking out in sores that blister and then crust over.
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However, adults are more susceptible to the rare but serious complications from chicken pox than children are. These rare complications include lung and brain complications. In women who are not immune to chicken pox, infection with the virus can cause very serious problems for the fetus, including death and birth deformities. It is also very dangerous for those who have a problem with their immune system, such as people with cancer or HIV. Therefore, if you have never had a chicken pox infection or been vaccinated against the condition, it is highly recommended that you get the vaccine. The vaccine is very effective and can be easily administered by your primary care doctor. Mention it the next time that you see your doctor.
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