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Valtrex

Valtrex is one of the most popular herpes medications available. Learn more about Valtrex for Herpes.
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Herpes does not have a cure. It is a contagious virus that lays dormant in the body after the initial infection, and comes to the surface in the form of recurrences throughout the course of the infected person's life.

As many as 65% of the population is infected with herpes simplex 1 according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, with an additional 21% infected with HSV-2.

While there is no cure for herpes, there are medicines designed to manage the symptoms. One of the more popular medicines is known as Valtrex.

Valtrex and Herpes

Valtrex is traditionally used to prevent the recurrence of genital herpes (primarily HSV-2).

Valtrex is an antiviral medication and uses the drug valacyclovir. It is a hydrochloride salt related to another antiviral drug known as acyclovir.

Valtrex is taken orally, usually in doses of 500mg to 1g.

As an antiviral, Valtrex may be used for other diseases, including:

  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
  • CMV Disease
  • Mononucleosis

However, Valtrex is most commonly used for the herpes virus.

Valtrex and Herpes Suppression

Valtrex is designed to prevent herpes symptoms.

Studies have shown that Valtrex is effective at preventing the recurrence of herpes. The Royal South Hants Hospital studied the efficacy of Valtrex in patients with frequently recurring herpes (8 or more recurrences per year). Half of the patients received a placebo, while the other half received valacyclovir.

Within the first 16 weeks, those taking Valtrex had 85% fewer recurrences than those without it. In weeks 16 to 48 of treatment, only 31% of those taking Valtrex had a recurrence, compared to 91.5% of patients on placebo.

This study, along with many others, provided evidence that Valtrex is highly effective for reducing herpes recurrences.

Valtrex for Herpes Transmission

Herpes is a highly contagious disease that spreads through a process known as "shedding." While shedding is known to occur when sores are present (or in the prodromal phase before sores arise when the skin begins to tingle), 70% of all of those that contract herpes catch the virus when their partner showed no signs or symptoms of an outbreak.

Without symptoms, those with herpes struggle to prevent spreading herpes to their partner. Herpes shedding may occur at any time without the knowledge of the infected individual.

Valtrex has been approved for use to prevent the spreading of asymptomatic herpes. A study by the Indiana University School of Medicine found that overall viral shedding was reduced by 71% and significantly reduced the total days the virus was shed during the 60 day research period.

Another study found that when taking Valtrex, the chances of spreading asymptomatic herpes decreased as well, by as much as 77%. So not only did the likelihood of spreading herpes decrease, but those that still were infected tended to experience symptoms that were less pronounced.

Even with medication, herpes can be spread to others. Yet this research and others indicate that taken daily under a doctor's supervision, Valtrex is capable of preventing the transmission of herpes from an infected partner to an uninfected partner, especially when no symptoms are present.

Does Valtrex Work For Both HSV-1 and HSV-2?

There are two separate types of herpes – HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 has been traditionally associated only with oral herpes (cold sores), but research now shows that it can be spread to the genitals during unprotected sex when the virus is shedding.

As such, while Valtrex is normally used for HSV-2 (genital herpes), it may be valuable to take Valtrex for HSV-1. The Dermatology and Laser Center Northwest studied whether or not Valtrex was effective at reducing HSV-1 outbreaks and found that it was very effective for reducing future outbreaks.

Similarly, another study by the University of Pittsburgh School of medicine determined that Valtrex reduced the shedding and transmission of HSV-1 ocular herpes (eye herpes).

Overall, indications are that Valtrex is a useful drug to reduce the recurrences and transmission of both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Valtrex for Herpes simplex 1 has been approved by the FDA.

Additional Benefits of Valtrex and Herpes

Many people choose to take Valtrex for herpes every day in order to prevent outbreaks and transmission. But Valtrex may also be used as a way to reduce the length and severity of a herpes outbreak.

Doctors often prescribe Valtrex for use during a herpes outbreak – especially the primary outbreak, which tends to create the most severe symptoms. Valtrex is best if used within 48 hours of the initial outbreak, but may be beneficial at any point throughout the outbreak cycle.

Dosing also differs depending on the reason for taking Valtrex for herpes. According to the Valtrex pharmaceutical documents:

  • 4 grams of Valtrex are used for a cold sores outbreak. One day only, 2 grams every 12 hours.
  • 2 grams of Valtrex are used for a primary genital herpes infection. 1 gram twice a day for 10 days.
  • 1 gram of Valtrex is used for recurrent genital herpes outbreaks. 500mg a day for 3 days.
  • 1 gram of Valtrex is taken per day for suppressive therapy for those with numerous recurrences.
  • 500 mg of Valtrex is taken per day for suppressive therapy for those with few recurrences (<10).
  • 500 mg of Valtrex is taken per day to prevent transmission.

However, these numbers are prone to change, and may be different depending on your doctor and your health. Those that are HIV positive may require different dosing instructions. Always talk to your doctor before taking Valtrex and take the recommended dose as described.

Valtrex Safety

Valtrex for herpes is generally safe. Some common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Rare side effects include seizures, coma, tremor, psychosis, fatigue, vertigo, and edema. Most of these rare side effects occur in less than 0.1% of those that take Valtrex.

Overall Impressions of Valtrex and Herpes

Valtrex is one of the only effective medications designed to prevent herpes recurrences, reduce the severity of outbreaks, and prevent herpes transmission and shedding. It cannot prevent all outbreaks or all transmission, and it does have side effects that patients should consider before taking Valtrex pills.

But overall, Valtrex may be a worthwhile choice in reducing the effects of herpes.

Sources


http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_valtrex.pdf

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