Valacyclovir: Fixing a Discomforting Problem
Posted: 1 year ago
There are a few times in life when having a candid conversation with a medical professional can bring on a bit of awkwardness. Even as an adult, it can be difficult to discuss having cold sores and herpes and trying to find a solution to the problem. Still, these viruses will be much more manageable after consulting with a knowledgeable physician.
What Is Valacyclovir?
Valacyclovir is a generic medication used for a variety of reasons for both children and adults in treating specific viruses. While it is not a cure, it does decrease the harshness and length of a certain outbreak. Being able to take an outbreak from bothering a person for weeks and diminishing it down to days is a major accomplishment.
For example, in children, it can be used to treat cold sores around the mouth (caused by herpes simplex) and chickenpox (caused by varicella-zoster). With adults, it can be used to treat shingles (caused by herpes zoster), cold sores around the mouth just like with children, and outbreaks of genital herpes.
The good news is by using valacyclovir consistently, it can reduce the number of outbreaks in the future and help you manage your life better from here on out.
How Valacyclovir Works
Valacyclovir, also known under the brand name of Valtrex, is a drug that is taken by mouth and works effectively at reducing the growth of herpes so the body can manage the infection much better. It works by curbing the infection rate and halting the herpes virus from contaminating healthy cells.
It is known as a prodrug because it enters the body as one substance and converts over into another (acyclovir) once it goes through the liver. Many physicians will recommend Valtrex over other antiviral herpes medications because more of the drug actually makes it into the body compared to the other drugs that are diminished after passing through the liver.
Once again, keep in mind that valacyclovir does not cure herpes. It does help in managing it though by causing it to heal quicker and curtailing the number of episodes.
How Long Does Valacyclovir Take to Work?
It really does depend on the extent of the outbreak before you may notice the difference. For example, for most people experiencing cases of herpes, valacyclovir can provide relief in as little as a couple of days. The key is to take it as soon as the symptoms present themselves for best results. But keep in mind, everyone responds differently to medication so you will not know for sure just how long it will take before it provides the benefits until you have taken valacyclovir yourself.
Valacyclovir Brands and Dosage of Medication
As is the case with generic medications, there are numerous trade names for valacyclovir available on the market. This should be viewed as a positive since one brand does not control the whole market and the prices of the medication should be relatively inexpensive. As mentioned up above, Valtrex is the most commonly recommended by doctors in the United States. But if concerned about cost, definitely shop around for other brands at the pharmacy. With generic drugs, you can spend very little on the exact same medication that would otherwise cost you some serious money for brand names.
For dosing purposes, it all depends on the size of the individual, the age of the person taking the medication, and what virus is being treated. Most of the time, the tablets are either offered as 500mg or 1,000mg in strength.
Most commonly, for treating shingles in adults, the person will be asked to take 1,000mg of valacyclovir three times a day for a span of one week. If possible, take the medication as soon as shingles is noticed and the medication can start working its magic quicker.
When using valacyclovir for treating cold sores in adults, two doses of 2,000mg twelve hours apart is usually recommended and results will be noticeable rather quickly.
Adults suffering from herpes for the first time is told to take 1,000mg two times daily for ten days. If it is a recurring case of genital herpes, the dose is lowered to 500mg two times daily for three days. As always, start taking valacyclovir as soon as the symptoms present themselves. It is important to continue the medication for the full amount of time without skipping doses or discontinuing early otherwise the outbreak may rear its ugly head again sooner rather than later.
Valacyclovir Side Effects
As with all medication, there is always the chance of side effects with valacyclovir. However, it is usually a pretty safe drug that is tolerable by most. Doctors would not risk prescribing it if the negatives outweighed the positives.
It may cause headache, upset stomach, dizziness, or nausea. But most of the time these minor side effects from valacyclovir will subside over time as your body gets used to the medication.
There is always a chance of more serious side effects, but they are uncommon with valacyclovir. This could include an allergic reaction, mood change, seizures, disorientation, irregular heartbeat, or kidney problems. Contact your doctor immediately or head to the emergency room if something serious should occur.
To reduce the risk of side effects, the person may take the medication with food and also drink plenty of liquid as well. Avoid alcohol when taking valacyclovir as combining prescribed medication with alcohol is never a good idea.
Other Ways to Improve Valacyclovir
As always, discuss any concerns you may have with a medical professional. Make certain your doctor realizes any other medications you are currently taking, prescribed or not, as it may affect the performance of valacyclovir. Be completely honest with your physician and he will be able to make the best educated decisions for you in relation to valacyclovir.
Only take valacyclovir as recommended by a doctor. Do not try to self-diagnose. Contact your physician immediately when noticing symptoms and start the medication as soon as possible for best results.