What is Acyclovir for?
Acyclovir is classified as an antiviral medication and it is commonly used to reduce the growth and the spread of the herpes virus. This virus is the cause of many viral illnesses like genital herpes, shingles, chicken pox and cold sores. Acyclovir will not cure herpes but will only help reduce the symptoms that accompany the infection,
Acyclovir is a generic name and the most popular brand name of acyclovir is Zovirax. Zovirax is a prescription medication and is available in 200mg capsules, 400 and 800mg tablets, 200mg/5ml suspension, 50mg/ml injection, 500 and 1000mg powder for injection and 5% strength ointment. Acyclovir is also known as acycloguanosine or ACV.
How do you use Acyclovir?
There are several important things to remember when you are taking acyclovir. Your doctor will provide you a list of the things that you need to follow while taking this drug as well as the dosage and time you need to take acyclovir. It is commonly prescribed to be taken two or more times a day for a span of 6 to 10 days to effectively control herpes symptoms.
Before taking acyclovir, tell your doctor about any allergies to acyclovir or any other medications intended for antiviral use. Inform him about any food allergies that may affect your treatment. Your doctor should also know about any prescription or over-the-counter medication that you are currently taking since many types of medication may interfere with the action of acyclovir. Medications such as multivitamins, nutritional supplements, herbal or natural products and all maintenance medications must be listed as well as their doses.
Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan on getting pregnant while taking acyclovir. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan on breastfeeding while taking this medication since it could pass to your baby through your breast milk.
- You can take acyclovir with or without food. There are no special dietary restrictions while you are on this medication but be sure to drink plenty of liquids.
- If you miss a dose take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Evenly space the remaining doses for the day. Never take double doses to make up for a missed dose. Take extra effort to remind yourself of your daily dose of acyclovir to completely manage herpes symptoms.
- Complete the recommended period that you need to take acyclovir but never take it more than what is recommended in your prescription.
- Take note of any side effects that may occur while taking acyclovir. Any unusual symptoms or worsening symptoms must be reported as soon as possible.
- Take extra effort not to spread genital herpes by practicing safe sexual intercourse. Avoid contact of infected areas to people; you can spread the virus by touching infected areas. Always wash your hands to prevent passing the virus to other people.
Storage condition for Acyclovir:
Keep this medication in the container that it came with; the cap must be tightly closed. Keep it away from extreme temperature and excess moisture. Do not keep unused medications, instead, throw the contents accordingly.
Other important information
Genital herpes is very contagious and if you are diagnosed with this illness, consult your doctor with the need to control the spread of infection. It is recommended that your partner should be screened and treated for genital herpes as well. Aside from completing treatment with acyclovir, your partner should exercise precaution in the spread of this illness.
You should keep regular appointments with your doctor especially during the first few days of your treatment with acyclovir as well as after the recommended days to evaluate your response to the drug. If you need to refill your prescription, ask your doctor or pharmacist for assistance.
What are the side effects of Acyclovir?
Taking acyclovir will help manage symptoms of herpes but may also come with side effects; here are some of the most common ones:
- Gastrointestinal problems like upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are common but consult your doctor in case your diarrhea and vomiting becomes worse.
- Headaches are common which may be easily relieved by taking OTC pain medications.
- Muscle pain and joint pain may develop in some patient which may be reduced by rest.
- Agitation and confusion are also common; consult your doctor in case these side effects become worse.
- Vision changes and hair loss must be reported as soon as possible.
- Developing skin changes like hives, blisters, rashes, severe itching and worsening of your herpes symptoms should be reported to your doctor.
- Any symptom of an allergic reaction like hoarseness of voice, increased or racing heartbeat, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, hands, feet and the lower legs should be reported. Your doctor will recommend you stop taking acyclovir and prescribe a more suitable treatment considering your allergic reactions to the medication.
- These symptoms require immediate medical attention like high fever, blood in the urine, decreased urination, blood in diarrhea, seizures, loss of consciousness, uncontrollable shaking or tingling of any part of the body, numbness or burning sensation on any part of the body or inability to move any area of the body.
There are other side effects as a result of taking acyclovir. For any other unusual symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. During your consultations, ask for your doctor’s emergency phone number as well as the number of the nearest medical facility in your area.
In case of over dosage:
Call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or call for emergency medical services by dialling 911. Keep this medication out of reach of children.
What is the usual dose of Acyclovir?
Acyclovir may be taken orally through capsule, tablet or suspension. Your doctor may prescribe dosage of two to five times in a day for a period of 5 to 10 days. It is recommended that acyclovir doses must start as soon as initial symptoms begin. During outbreaks of genital herpes, preventive doses are usually made of 2 to 5 doses per day for a period of 12 months. Always ask any questions pertaining to your prescription should any part is unclear to you; acyclovir may also be prescribed for other illnesses so it’s important to ask your doctor for an updated information about this drug.