Herpes (Oral and Genital) are a common condition among Americans. It is estimated that about 50 to 80% of Americans are infected with Oral Herpes and over 50 million people are infected with Genital Herpes every year. Both Oral and Genital Herpes conditions, which have no cure, are caused by herpes simplex virus. Since there is no permanent vaccine to herpes, all one can do is administer suppressive antiviral therapy in a herpes patient. Of all types of herpes diseases, genital herpes is a STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) which occurs in more young teens these days.
Suppressive Antiviral Therapy: Herpes is treated only by antiviral drugs. Acyclovir, the most common of all antiviral drugs, has been used in Herpes treatment from 1982. The drug is available in tablet, capsule and liquid forms and can be administered as prescribed by the physician. Acyclovir treats genital herpes, oral herpes, cold sores on the lips, chicken pox and shingles virus (herpes zoster).
How does Acyclovir work? Acyclovir or Zovirax works by inhibiting virus multiplication by blocking enzyme action within host cell. Acyclovir prevents the herpes virus from spreading to other cells, thereby, speeding up recovery and preventing further damage of infected area.
Acyclovir dosage: The drug is generally taken 3 to 5 times a day for a period of 5 to 10 days. The right time for dosage is as soon as the symptoms appear. For genital herpes, it is best when the drug is taken continuously for up to 12 months to completely annihilate the virus. Medical advice is a must and a patient should follow the doctor’s instructions throughout the medication period. Even if symptoms disappear after a few days of drug intake, it is better if you complete the course of your medication.
Precautions to be taken: Though Acyclovir is a remarkable drug for herpes, you need to take a few precautions while using it for safety purposes:
1. Allergic reactions: Certain drugs can cause allergic reactions in you. Tell your doctor and seek an alternative medication if you are allergic to acyclovir, valacyclovir or any other medications with the ingredients of acyclovir.
2. Inform your doctor about your medications: This is a must if you are already on prescription drugs – vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbal products – for other ailments. Drug interactions can happen if you are not careful and that can lead to critical conditions.
3. Pregnancy or other STDs: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, it is better to inform your doctor when he prescribes Acyclovir. Also, if you have any other infections or chronic health conditions like HIV, other STDs and kidney disorders, inform your doctor beforehand.
4. Avoid sexual contact: If you are under treatment for genital herpes, remember that you can infect your partner if you have sex with him or her. So, avoid sexual contact as long as you are under treatment.
5. Beware of side effects: Be aware of the side effects of the drug. Serious side effects include no urination, lower back pain, lethargy, bleeding etc. Less serious side effects include stomach upsets, vomiting, headaches, swelling in hands and feet etc.
6. Alcohol intake: Limit your intake of alcohol when you are on medication for herpes as acyclovir can induce drowsiness and make you sleepy. Also, avoid heavy work or work that requires you to be alert – like driving or handling heavy machinery.
7. Highly contagious: When you have a Herpes infection, you need to be germ-free as much as possible as skin-to-skin contact can infect another person. You need to keep your hands clean, avoiding touching or rubbing against others. Do not touch your eyes after rubbing your blisters as it can develop herpes in the cornea.
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