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Chickenpox as an adult - exactly how ill am I likely to be?

(33 Posts)
neverquitesure Sun 29-Jul-12 11:26:15

My 2 year old daughter has just recovered from a mild case of chickenpox and I'm expecting my 3 year old son and possibly me to go down with it sometime between now and mid August. 

Do I need to start asking round family & friends for help with the children? My husband will most likely be working away if and when it hits us. 

I've struggled on & managed to look after the  children through tonsillitis (flu + sore throat for those who've been lucky enough to avoid it) and a breast abscess plus the usual vomiting bugs etc so I'm prepared to accept a few days from hell but obviously if I'm likely to be bed bound I need to formulate a Plan B. 

Go on. Hit me with your horror stories...

rufusnine Sun 29-Jul-12 14:59:31

I was 29, felt rotten like I had the flu, was so covered in spots my dh offered to use a paint roller to put on the calamine, but i wasn't completely incapacitated! AND you might already be immune! Fingers crossed!

Pagwatch Sun 29-Jul-12 15:03:21

I had it at 25. No idea who I got it from.
I was very itchy and uncomfortable. Really, very!
But I was never in bed or feeling ill/incapacitated. Not at all.

FrankWippery Sun 29-Jul-12 15:06:25

I would think it wise to make sure you've got help at hand. I gave chicken pox to my stepfather (he was 32 at the time) and he is was very very ill. Mum says that at one stage he was hallucinating so badly that it was like he'd popped a tab. I think it was a good 2 weeks that he was totally out of action and a further one or two until he was back to flying fitness (he was an airforce pilot)

EssieW Sun 29-Jul-12 15:08:25

I had it whilst pregnant. The first 2 days were the worse - exhausted and achy all the time. Walking felt like I was pushing a brick wall. I spent those two days in bed. After that, I was ok - still taking it easy but not feeling awful. I was back at work 9 days after it started.

EssieW Sun 29-Jul-12 15:10:12

DS stayed with grandparents for 1st few days - I couldn't have coped otherwise

Bunbaker Sun 29-Jul-12 15:12:56

Could you ask your GP for a chicken pox vaccination? I don't know many people who have had it as an adult, but the ones I do were very poorly and would have been totally unable to look after children.

poorbuthappy Sun 29-Jul-12 15:14:45

I had it when I was 35.
I thought I was dying. blush
I had help from my parents whilst I alternated between sleeping and standing in the rain without my top on to try and cool myself down.
I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy.

Sorry. sad

TheProvincialLady Sun 29-Jul-12 15:36:06

It's pretty unlikely you'll get it. Obviously some adults do catch it, but not one of the parents I know whose children had chicken pox, caught it themselves. I didn't. Your 3 year old will probably catch it but you almost certainly won't. I certainly wouldn't start formulating plans etc based on what it might be like if you catch something you are so unlikely to get.

Unless of course you have a condition that affects your immune system?

FrankWippery Sun 29-Jul-12 15:42:10

If you haven't had chickenpox as a child then you have as much chance of catching it as anyone else who hasn't yet had it, child or not.

If you have had it as a child it is unlikely, but not impossible that you can catch it again. IIRC I think it's SarahStratton who's had it 3 times or more. My DS had it twice.

Declutterbug Sun 29-Jul-12 15:51:19

Very ill. Like very bad flu, with ongoing exhaustion afterwards. I know quite a few people who didn't have it as kids, assumed they were immune and then caught it from their children. I'd say you'll need at least a week of help with the kids if you get it properly. It's usually 2 weeks from exposure to getting ill.

<wipes memories of horrid sore spots up nose, in vagina & down throat>

If you get to the GP smartish the second you develop symptoms they can prescribe antivirals that significantly lessen teh sympttoms thought they are the size of horse pills. I developed it on a friday night, and did get them on tthe mon when the GP re-opened, but it was too late for them to have any effect really. I know someone else who gott it and started taking them the morning the first spot appeared and they were much less ill.

There is a vaccination I believe that can prevent it after exposure. Got to be worth asking the GP or even trying to get it privately.

neverquitesure Sun 29-Jul-12 16:17:33

So basically it's likely to range between shit and very shit. 

I now realise that I omitted possibly the most important piece of additional information which was that I did not have chickenpox as a child, although my brother did so there is a tiny chance (please God) that I have natural immunity. 

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the vaccine is only effective if given within a few days of exposure. I shall have a google a bit later and find out. The pills (anti-virals?) sound good though. Has anyone else tried them? I shall have to phone our doctor tomorrow and see how you go about getting them. 

DeWe Sun 29-Jul-12 17:31:12

I hoped that I had natural immunity. My dsis had it, as various friends/best friends. I even went though an epidemic where severaly people had it for the second time... I got it at university when no one else got it, couldn't even work it out where I'd got it from. confused

It was bad as an adult, although I wasn't as bad as my university's nurse's husband. He'd got it in his 40s and had it so badly he caused a small pox scare.

neverquitesure Sun 29-Jul-12 17:53:17

Thanks everyone.

My mother seems sure I have natural immunity, having sent me to every chickenpox party going and having me rub lotion onto my brother's spots. However I was young and healthy then, whereas now I am sleep deprived, 30-something and also suffering with a nasty cough. The odds don't look great.

According to Dr Google "The vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing chickenpox if given within three days of exposure to varicella zoster virus14, although it may still have some benefit if given up to five days after exposure" so I'm passed that point as my daughter's spots came out properly 8 days ago, so was contagious from 10 days ago. A little very wimpy part of me is relieved as I'm highly needle phobic and have not managed an inoculation (although I would have given it my best shot, no pun intended!)

The anti-viral looks promising though so I shall push for that within the first 24 hours of any chickenpox type rash appearing.

hellymelly Sun 29-Jul-12 18:00:14

You may have had it and only had a few spots, so it went un-noticed. If you've had that much contact I think you are highly unlikely to get ill now. If you do though, be careful and go to A+E if you feel very unwell. The only adult i know who got it died, he was slightly imuno compromised, but even in healthy adults it can be serious.

hermionestranger Sun 29-Jul-12 18:02:06

Dh had it at 21 and was incapacitated for 6 weeks. You don't know how you'll react until you get it though.

My friend has never had it even when her DS exposed her to it she avoided it do it's possible you have some form of immunity to it.

Declutterbug Sun 29-Jul-12 18:02:46

Well, fingers crossed smile.

My mother was similarly convinced and had taken us to numerous chicken pox parties, encouraged us to examine other children's spots in detail <boak> etc. She was, sadly, wrong.

Good luck!

Jemma1111 Sun 29-Jul-12 18:09:18

I had it at 23 and surprisingly I felt ok and not ill at all , guess I was lucky and as others have said if you do get it then best to get yourself checked out.

The only symptoms I had was so many spots that I looked like I'd been turned into a pizza !

mrsbugsywugsy Sun 29-Jul-12 18:15:53

DP had it at 34. He was pretty poorly for a week - ie feverish and couldn't get out of bed. Then spotty and miserable but functioning for another week. The Dr signed him off work and prescribed him some kind of antihistamine.

Fingers crossed you don't get it. If you've been exposed before there is a good chance you just had a very mild version and are already immune.

TitWillow Sun 29-Jul-12 18:22:10

I had it last year when my DC's got it, despite having had it as a child. I luckily had very few spots - about 6 on my arms and 2 or 3 on my face, but felt pretty rough- bed for a couple of days feeling completely wiped out, and another 4 or so days moving about but still weak.

I was not impressed. Immunity my arse.

libelulle Sun 29-Jul-12 18:27:41

I never had cp as a child, either to my memory or that of my dm, but still have immunity - quite strong immunity in fact, as confirmed by a blood test. I was told then by gp that 9 times out of 10 adults who think they've never had cp are indeed immune. So keep your fingers crossed, you might be ok!

DanyTargaryen Sun 29-Jul-12 18:28:03

DP had it last year while i was pregnant with DD and I have got to be honest I've never seen him be so ill. Took at least 2 weeks before he felt fully recovered. He'd had it as a kid, as had I so I thought we'd be both ok. I was, he wasn't. sad

EightiesOlympicGolds Sun 29-Jul-12 18:36:05

I had it as an adult, having not had it as a child, and it was actually very mild. Only a few spots and only felt properly ill for about 24 hours. So you may be lucky. smile

neversaydie Sun 29-Jul-12 19:36:47

I had chicken pox aged 46, having had multiple failed chances to catch it all through my childhood and teens. I too was reasonably sure I was naturally immune - but had not allowed for the infectious powers of a DS with chicken pox who was only interested in cuddling his Mum.

It probably didn't help that the spots came out when I was on the plane coming back from a business trip to the USA. (No reason not to go if I was naturally immune, right?) I was ill for 3 weeks, and had 4-5 days when all I could get down was chipped ice because I had spots in my throat.

I don't know if it would have been less extreme had I been a younger adult when I got it. But in answer to your question, I was not fit to do anything other than sleep for over a week.

NoComet Sun 29-Jul-12 19:40:25

Vile, dying on the sofa flu for 3 days then it's ok

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