Shingles Sends Nearly 1 Million Americans to the Doctor

Nearly 1 million Americans receive medical care for shingles or its complications each year, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Shingles comes from an infection with varicella zoster virus -- the same virus that causes chickenpox -- and can result in burning or shooting pain, tingling or itching. However, unlike chickenpox, shingles is not contagious.

AHRQs survey found that:

Americans make 2.1 million doctor visits a year because of shingles or its complications.

The average cost for treating shingles is $525 per person or $566 million each year (in 2005 dollars), including prescription medicines.

People age 65 and older are seven times more likely to get shingles than the non-elderly (1.5 percent compared with 0.2 percent, respectively).

Source: AHRQ