ZocdocAnswersIs chicken pox life-threatening if you get it as an adult?

Question

Is chicken pox life-threatening if you get it as an adult?

Heard some bad stories about chicken pox as an adult. I?m 44 and have never had it, lucky me. But someone said it can be dangerous if you get it as an adult. Should I get a vaccine? Is there one?

Answer

Overall, chicken pox is rarely a life-threatening infection. With that said, the infection in adults is almost always more complicated and more severe. Deaths due to chicken pox are much more likely to happen in adults over children. In addition, bad complications of chicken pox is more likely to occur in adult males than adult females. The reason for this is that illnesses such as pneumonia (infection in the lungs), hepatitis (infection in the liver), and encephalitis (infection in the brain) are more likely to occur in adults. The good news is that there is a very effective vaccine that can be given to either adults or children which will prevent the infection. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. If you are not quite sure if you ever had the chicken pox, then you can get tested for chicken pox antibodies. If you have the antibodies in your blood to chicken pox, then you likely are safe from getting it. If you do not have antibodies to the virus, then you would most likely benefit from getting the vaccine. This is the best way for your to protect yourself against those complications that can occur with an infection in adults.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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