Valtrex is the name of the drug that contains valacyclovir. It is prescribed for many infections caused by the herpes virus, which includes cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. Herpes virus can appear on any part of the body, but most often, it shows in the genitals and mouth. There are two types of herpes:
- Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) - causes cold sores and fever blisters
- Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) - causes genital herpes
However, the effect of the drug does not involve eliminating the virus itself, but rather, engages in alleviating the symptoms of the virus. It also lessens the duration of the herpes virus. The drug does not also prevent the virus from spreading to other people.
Uses of the Drug
If you have frequent outbreaks of cold sores or genital herpes, Valtrex is a helpful drug. As soon as you notice the warning signs of an outbreak, you can take a dosage of this drug, which will make the outbreak more bearable for you.
This drug is also used in some cases to help lessen the severity of chickenpox or even helps prevent certain viral infections, especially in patients who have had an organ transplant. It is also prescribed sometimes for eye infections caused by the herpes virus. Valtrex has validated its usefulness from the time of its approval in 1995 by the US food and drug administration until now.
How does Valtrex work?
When you take a dosage of this drug, and it is absorbed by your body, it gets converted to acyclovir, which is also another drug. This conversion helps the drug to be absorbed by the body efficiently, thereby, helping the proper functioning of the drug. This drug mechanism allows you take the medication only for a few times a day. Valtrex reduces the number of cells that are attacked by the herpes virus by restricting its reproduction.
DNA polymerase is a viral enzyme present in the cells infected by the herpes virus. This enzyme helps the virus to replicate the genetic material for reproduction. The enzyme gives the virus a chance to spread to other cells. Valtrex targets this enzyme and blocks it. Therefore, it restricts the spreading of the virus. This is how Valtrex makes the infection bearable for you.
Dosage of Valtrex
The effectiveness of the drug starts only when you begin taking the drug as soon as you notice the warning signs. Some infections take longer and some rank more on the intensity scale, so your doctor will prescribe a dosage according to your specific infection. One thing that you should also keep in mind is that once you start taking this drug, you have to increase your fluid intake to avoid harming your kidney.
- The normal dosage for adult genital herpes in the first few episodes is restricted to about 1 g, which is taken twice a day for approximately seven to ten days. For more than one or two episodes, the dosage is increased up to 500 mg twice for three days. This dosage is for oral consumption.
- The normal adult dosage for immunocompetent individuals with herpes simplex suppression (chronic suppression of recurrent genital herpes) is 1 g taken one time a day by mouth. If you have a history of nine or fewer recurrences per year, your prescription could also decrease to 500 mg orally once a day.
- For HIV-infected individuals that have a CD4 count of more than 100 cells/mm3, they are prescribed with 500 mg of the drug. It is taken orally for twice a day.
- The adult dosage of Valtrex for diseases like herpes zoster or shingles is recommended at 1 g to be consumed orally for seven days at an interval of every eight hours. The medicine is known to work most effectively when taken as soon as the symptoms like skin rashes, fever, or weakness are noticed.
- The adult dose for treating a herpes simplex immunocompromised host is at 1 g orally twice a day for seven to fourteen days for their first episode. For a recurrent episode, it is usually 1 g orally twice a day for five to fourteen days.
- The pediatric dosage of Valtrex for symptoms of herpes simplex labialis (oral herpes) for patients above 12 years of age is 2 g orally every 12 hours for a total of 2 (4 g) doses. Treatment should be started as soon as the fluid-filled lesions associated with it appear or when you are experiencing tingling or itching sensations.
- The pediatric dosage of Valtrex for symptoms of varicella-zoster (chickenpox) is restricted to 20 mg/kg to be consumed orally three times a day for five days.
If you miss any dosage, do not take an extra dosage of the medicine, and just continue with the next one. If you suspect an overdose, consult a medical helpline or doctor immediately.
What are the side effects of Valtrex?
If you come across anything that is listed below, seek immediate help from a professional. The symptoms are known to be more common in ages above 65 years.
- Allergic reactions - include difficulty in breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, and throat.
- Psychological side effects - include confusion, seizures, and even hallucinations.
- Biological and physical effects of kidney problems - little or no passing of urine, passing urine with difficulty, experiencing pain while urinating, swelling of your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath, fever, pale skin, unusual bleeding (nosebleeds and bleeding gums), reddish dark spots on the skin, unexplained weakness or fatigue, constant pain in the stomach, diarrhea with blood, vomiting, headache, and rash.
Can pregnant women take doses of Valtrex?
It is not very clear if the drug harms the unborn infant during the prenatal stage. However, a 500 mg dose given to a pregnant mother resulted to precipitates of valacyclovir in the breast milk. The manufacturer has therefore specified that the administration of the drug to pregnant women should be done only when necessary.
Do’s and Don’ts While Taking Valtrex
- Although it has become a common practice today to take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs without a prescription, it is important that you ask your doctor first as he will guide you and make sure that you will not face any side effects while taking Valtrex. It is always better to have a professional watching over you.
- Drink lots of water to keep your kidney to function effectively.
- People with AIDS shouldn’t be taking Valtrex without prescription. If their condition does not support the medication, then it could lead to more complications. The doctors will make sure that people who have AIDS can take Valtrex based on their current health condition.
- If you have a weak immune system, make sure you have a prescription from your doctor because Valtrex cannot only make you weak and give you joint pains, but it can also damage your internal organs.
- If you are on a dosage of Valtrex, do not take other medications without consulting your doctor because doing so could cause certain side effects.
- Make sure that you read all the drug's instructions and directions listed on the leaflet provided.
- If you notice any side effects, rush to your doctor immediately or call for help.