Acyclovir is a drug that is used to treat varying degrees of infections caused by viruses. Most commonly, the drug is recommended to treat cold sores occurring around the mouth, or outbreaks from genital herpes. It’s also effective against shingles and chickenpox. Because of its powerful antiviral properties, the medication is very effective when treating HSV2 herpes outbreaks. Acyclovir for herpes is specially designed to reduce the amount and severity of the outbreaks in the individuals who carry the herpes virus.
About Acyclovir for Herpes
Even though acyclovir is meant to be an effective antiviral drug, it should not be mistaken as a cure. The medication can treat outbreaks, but the infection remains inside of the body between each outbreak instance. This means that the drug is a form of management, allowing for those who suffer from herpes to live more comfortably.
Additionally, the drug can help sores heal faster and soothe outbreak areas, preventing future sores from forming while decreasing the local pain and itching. For individuals who suffer from a weaker immune system, taking acyclovir can help contain the virus, limiting its spread to other body parts, which greatly reduces the risks of especially serious infections.
Usually your doctor will determine the dosage plan when it comes to reducing the severity and occurrence of outbreaks. The average recommendation will be to take the medication by mouth anywhere between two to five times per day. In some cases, this can mean taking five pills at a time five times per day, at a total of 25 pills! This is one reason many people prefer Valocyclovir (Valtrex) instead. (However, Acyclovir is far cheaper.)
Usually the dosage is based entirely on how you respond to the treatment. In the case of children, the dosage is based on weight as well. Because of how immediately the drug works in the body, it is important to keep its levels constant. The recommended course is to take the drug at evenly spaced intervals throughout the day. Users are encouraged to take a pill at the same times every day. It is crucial for you to not skip doses or change the dosage until the prescription runs out, and even then, you will need to speak with your doctor and keep them informed in case the condition worsens or persists.
When to Take Acyclovir
Speak with your doctor at the first sign of an outbreak, and take it immediately once it begins. The drug begins working in your body almost instantly so long as it is taken daily as directed by your doctor. The medication will usually need to be taken even after the outbreak has been managed in order to manage the last traces of the infection.
Acyclovir Side Effects
There are several side effects that can occur during dosage period, though they are usually mild in severity. It is highly recommended to keep your body well hydrated while taking the medication. Nausea is one of the most common side effects. If you feel it worsening or persisting after your body adjusts to the medication, you should inform your doctor. While these are rarer, it is crucial to be aware of any signs of kidney damage, mental or mood changes, unusual amounts of dizziness and drowsiness, and difficulty speaking.
The rarest of all side effects are also among the most severe, and it is extremely unlikely that the doctor would prescribe the medication if you were at risk for any severe side effects. However, it is important to keep in mind that the medication can very rarely cause life threatening disorders that affect the kidneys and blood cells. Seeking out medical attention is vital if you experience extreme fatigue or any irregular changes in your heartbeat. Similarly, be aware of the possibilities of kidney damage and severe stomach or abdominal pain, as well as sudden vision changes, seizures, and sudden loss of consciousness.
Acyclovir vs. Valtrex
Another medication option, similar to acyclovir for herpes, is Valtrex. Much like acyclovir, the drug works by combating the virus and the infection and reducing the frequency of outbreaks. It also helps manage the pain and itchiness that occurs between outbreaks. The largest difference between the two drugs is the regular dosage amount, as both drugs are broken down and absorbed by the body at entirely different rates. Since Valtrex is absorbed into the body at a slower rate, its dosages will often be smaller — perhaps two pills a day. However, the way it functions and its side effects are similar enough to acyclovir for the difference of utility to be a matter of preference among doctors.