What is Valacyclovir for?
Valacyclovir is a drug that is used to control the herpes virus. This virus is responsible for shingles, herpes simplex genitalis and cold sores. Valacyclovir will stop the replication of viral DNA which will reduce the reproduction of herpes virus. This drug will not kill the herpes virus but will only help control the many symptoms of herpes.
Valacyclovir is converted into acyclovir in the body which is also another antiviral medication. Compared to taking acyclovir doses, valacyclovir has a longer duration. Acyclovir on the other hand is available in other forms like intraveneous and topical doses.
Valacyclovir is a generic name, and the most popular brand name is Valtrex. Valtrex is available in 500mg caplets.
How do you use Valacyclovir?
Your doctor will prescribe valacyclovir after careful examination of your symptoms. He will also help you take note of some important precautions upon taking this drug. In treating herpes zoster, the dose is 1gm three times a day for 7 days. Valacyclovir doses should start from the time the initial symptoms appear.
Before taking valacyclovir, inform your doctor for any allergies to valacyclovir ingredients and to acyclovir which is also an antiviral drug. You also need to tell your doctor for any allergies to food that may affect your treatment with valacyclovir. Any prescription or non-prescription medication must be told as well as multivitamins, nutritional supplements, herbal products and natural remedies. You also need to inform your doctor of any maintenance medications taken for any medical condition like heart ailments, diabetes, blood disorders, asthma, etc. that may affect the action of valacyclovir.
You should also inform your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan on becoming pregnant while taking valacyclovir. If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, valacyclovir crosses breast milk and may affect your baby as well.
- Valacyclovir may be taken with or without food or drink but most doctors recommend drinking milk or taking small amount of food to lessen gastrointestinal side effects. There are no special diet restrictions upon taking valacyclovir but increasing fluid intake is recommended to patients.
- You need tests and regular consultations with your doctor if you are instructed to take valacyclovir for a long period of time. For prevention of herpes in case of an outbreak, a dose of two to five times a day for several months is recommended hence frequent medical check-up and monitoring is ideal.
- If you miss a dose of valacyclovir, do not take double doses. Take the missed dose as soon as you remember and plan your next doses in evenly spaced intervals. Never miss a dose, make all the necessary effort to remember your doses so you can benefit from the effect of valacyclovir.
- Follow your doctor’s prescription by completing the recommended period for valacyclovir. However, never take this medication beyond the ideal dose and period.
- You must monitor your progress as well as any side effects that may occur while taking valacyclovir. Never underestimate any unusual side effect; consult your doctor for any unusual symptoms or the worsening of your condition as soon as possible.
Storage condition for Valacyclovir:
Valacyclovir is stored at room temperature between 59 to 77 degrees. Do not place the medication from heat, moisture and direct light. Store the medication in the container that it came with. Do not throw the label or the drug literature for future reference.
Other important information:
Remember that genital herpes is very contagious; you should exert all effort to contain the infection right away. Your partner or spouse must also be screened and treated for genital herpes as well. Aside from taking antiviral medications like valacyclovir, he must also practice safety in reducing the spread of infection.
What are the side effects of Valacyclovir?
Valacyclovir is useful in reducing the symptoms of the herpes virus but it may also lead to developing certain side effects. Here are some of the common side effects that you should be aware of:
- Headaches, dizziness and feeling of general malaise are common.
- The development of a mild skin rash or itching is common in some patients but must be reported if these side effects worsens.
- Gastrointestinal problems like gastric pain and nausea are also common but report blood in stool, severe stomach pains and severe vomiting.
- Stuffy nose and sore throat may also be present.
Consult your doctor for the following severe side effects:
- For any signs of allergic reaction such as itching, rashes not related to chicken pox or shingles, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, hands and feet. These must all be consulted to your doctor right away. He may advice discontinuing valacyclovir and a new treatment for your illness.
- Pale or yellow skin, fever, bleeding as evidenced by blood in urine and blood in stool or less frequent urination. You need to contact your doctor immediately for any of these symptoms.
- Weakness, loss of consciousness, confusion and unusual drowsiness must also be reported.
- Seizures, tingling sensation on any part of the body, pain in the lower back, unsteady feeling, sweating and mood changes must also be consulted at once.
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 Valacyclovir?
Valacyclovir for herpes simplex labialis in adults– 2 g of valacyclovir orally every 12 hours for a total dose of 4g per day; the treatment must start as soon as the illness is diagnosed.
Valacyclovir for herpes simplex in adults – in genital herpes, 1g of valacyclovir orally given twice a day for 7 to 10 days. For recurring herpes infections, take 500mg orally twice a day for a total of 3 days. Treatment of valacyclovir must be started as soon as the initial symptoms appear.
Your doctor will advise you with the ideal dosage and frequency of valacyclovir; you must follow this prescription at all cost to ensure adequate treatment of this medication.