- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Drugs For Herpes
A 2003 study carried out by the World Health Organization into the prevalence of herpes simplex-2, estimated that over 530 million people are infected across the world from both industrialized and developing nations.
This accounted for 16 per cent of the world population with more women (314 million) being infected than men (220 million).
Considering that herpes simplex-1 virus is up to three times as common, it is clear that a vast number of people are affected with this painful and embarrassing problem.
One of the reasons for herpes being so widespread is that a fair percentage of people who are infected with it never have any of the symptoms and are simply unaware that they have it and, because it is such a highly contagious virus, they pass it on through bodily contact.
For those people who do suffer the symptoms of a herpes outbreak, they can be very painful. Typically the primary infection, the first one after being exposed to the herpes virus, is the most severe. Not every symptom is experienced by every individual, but symptoms that do occur include fever, a tingling sensation, itching, blisters or sores, vaginal discharge and, in a few cases, herpes meningitis.
Once an individual contracts HSV-1 or HSV-2 the virus stays in the body permanently and there is no known cure for it. Due to the fact that the virus cannot be removed from the body, the way of treating herpes is to control and relieve the symptoms whilst preventing a further recurrence of outbreaks. Herpes treatment can be a combination of herbal remedies, lifestyle choices, medication and dietary supplements.
One of the most common and effective medications for herpes symptoms is Zovirax acyclovir ointment. This is mainly used to treat HSV-1 or oral herpes, but can be used to treat HSV-2 or genital herpes. Zovirax is available in three forms: topical, oral and intravenous
1. Topical Zovirax cream works best at the prodromal stage and is applied regularly on the skin where the infection is – about five or six times a day. Although it is most effective at the prodromal stage it can also be effective throughout an outbreak. Its primary function is to treat HSV-1, but it may be used to treat HSV-2 if prescribed by a doctor. Side effects could include itching, burning or skin peeling. Topical Zovirax is not recommended for suppressing recurrence of outbreaks. It is also not effective in reducing transmission of the virus.
2. Oral Zovirax can be taken two to five times a day and is more common than topical. It is used to treat HSV-1 and HSV-2 and can be used to assist in herpes suppression. It is more effective at suppressing recurrent outbreaks than it is at suppressing transmission, however. Side effects from Zovirax could include vomiting, headaches and nausea.
3. There are times when either an injection or intravenous Zovirax is the best option. When a patient is suffering from herpes encephalitis for instance. If a primary infection is extremely severe, then a patient would probably receive intravenous Zovirax.
But Does Zovirax Work?
Studies have revealed that Zovirax is effective in the treatment of herpes symptoms and that it can suppress recurrent outbreaks. Viral shedding was also reduced, but this doesn’t mean that transmission is blocked. Healing time was greatly reduced when Zovirax was used during the Prodromal period (when the skin tingles at the site of the outbreak prior to the blisters forming).
An American Medical Association study revealed that patients taking Zovirax experienced a reduction in recurrent symptoms. This study went on to show that those taking Zovirax experienced a quicker healing time for sores and blisters, recurrent outbreaks cleared up a day or two earlier than they ordinarily would have done and, quite importantly, relieved the pain more quickly.
What Else Is There To Treat Herpes?
As well as Zovirax, there is another commonly prescribed drug to treat herpes and it is called Valtrex. There is no huge difference between these two drugs and, in fact, Valtrex contains a drug called valacyclovir, which when ingested turns into acyclovir (Zovirax). Valtrex has a more manageable dose of one or two a day compared to five or six a day for Zovirax.
Zovirax is an anti-viral drug with minimum side effects which is effective in treating the symptoms of herpes. Valtrex is good at treating herpes too, but Valtrex is more susceptible to side effects than Zovirax is.
What Are The Side Effects with Valtrex?
As both Zovirax and Valtrex are effective in the treatment of herpes symptoms, the side effects from taking Vatrex could be caused for concern. Valtrex is considered to be a safe medication, but there has been a high incidence of mild side effects as revealed by a study mby makers GlaxoSmithKline:
1. Vomiting was reported as a side effect by three per cent of those in the survey
2. Dizziness was the concern of four per cent
3. Depression struck seven per cent
4. Menstrual pain accounted for eight per cent
5. Eleven per cent experienced abdominal pain and another eight per cent had nausea.
Valtrex side effects can also be a little less mild and although more research has to be undertaken to see if Valtrex is the true cause, or some other agent or condition, there is a warning that these could be possible side effects.
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Vision Problems
- Allergic Reaction
- Decreased Consciousness
Valtrex has also been linked with sexual dysfunction and to depression, but studies revealed that those taking a placebo experienced similar side effects.
Sexual Dysfunction and Depression could very well be caused by the herpes itself or the emotional stress of being told you have herpes.
When compared to other medications Valtrex is comparatively safe. It is effective in treating the symptoms of herpes and, whilst side effects such as headaches, vomiting and nausea are common, more serious side effects, though they are possible, are also quite rare.
What’s The Verdict?
Herpes is a huge problem with no cure and infections throughout the world running to over half a billion. Controlling it would be easier if it didn’t infect millions of people without giving them any of the symptoms. They just don’t know they have it and quickly pass it on. Living in a more promiscuous age means that the likely spread of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 is set to continue at an alarming rate. Until such time as a cure is found to rid the body of the herpes virus completely, it is important that outbreaks should be minimised in both severity and frequency. We have the drugs to do this now, the most common being Zovirax and Valtrex, but although they have been proved effective in studies into the treatment and suppression of herpes, there is still the issue of transmission to contend with.
Using Zovirax at an early stage can significantly reduce the severity of an outbreak, but can also suppress the frequency of recurrent outbreaks. The best time to use Zovirax is during the prodromal period, when the site of the outbreak is tingling prior to the blisters or sores forming. Zovirax does have some mild side effects, but is generally a safe medication to use for herpes.
Although Zovirax is most effective ion the prodromal period, it can be used at any stage of the outbreak to reduce symptoms and lower the time it takes to heal.
Another anti-viral drug that has proved effective against the herpes virus is Valtrex and it requires a lot fewer doses than Zovirax. A doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for you.
There has been a lot of concern over the safety of Valtrex after it had been linked with a good many side effects, but compared to other drugs it is safe and side effects, if any, will be mild. These side effects could include headaches, nausea and vomiting as well as a possible allergic reaction.
The most important thing if you do experience any bad side effects, is to stop using the medication and consult with your doctor about it as soon as possible.
One of the more major side effects linked to Valtrex is renal failure and, therefore, if someone is taking drugs that affect kidney function, special caution should be taken before starting to use Valtrex
When something is incurable such as this, it is necessary to concentrate on learning to live with it and, more importantly, learning to control it. Therefore, in conjunction with Zovirax and Valtrex it is important that a patient understands what triggers outbreaks and tries to learn to control that.
It is possible for someone suffering with herpes to gain more control over the condition by using Zovirax and Valtrex, by reducing the severity of the symptoms and suppressing recurrent outbreaks.