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What Is Valaciclovir ?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Valaciclovir / valacyclovir is an antiviral medication that may be used to treat or prevent certain herpes infections or cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is usually only available by prescription, and specific dosage directions can vary depending on the condition. Though the drug is useful, it may be contraindicated in the presence of some medical conditions or medications. Mild and severe side effects can also affect a small percentage of people who take this medicine.

Antiviral medications fight specific types of viruses, and they may either curb the outward manifestations of an infection or prevent one from occurring. Valaciclovir can do both, but it doesn’t necessarily cure viruses. For example, the drug may help treat or prevent outbreaks of herpes simplex, but the virus remains dormant in the body and can cause more infections. Alternately, some viruses, like CMV, particularly as transmitted by organ transplant, can be avoided by using this medication.

Most patients require a prescription for valaciclovir, and may have different dosing directions depending on their conditions. For shingles, the drug might be taken for seven days, and it could be recommended for a shorter time for herpes simplex outbreaks. To suppress outbreaks, individuals could use the medication daily for several months. Use of this drug past a year in duration is ordinarily not advisable.

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Certain individuals aren’t good candidates for the drug. Valaciclovir isn’t advised for patients under the age of 12 or for those with kidney disease. People with compromised immune systems can occasionally take this medication, but in other instances, this may be a contraindication.

Moreover, valaciclovir may negatively interact with a variety of medications. These include lithium and many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Other pain relievers, like acetaminophen, cause interactions or necessitate a dosage change. A variety of antibiotics, cancer drugs like methotrexate, or other antiviral medications are not recommended to be taken with this drug. Patients are advised to tell their doctors about all medicines they use to avoid dangerous interactions.

A number of mild side effects are associated with valaciclovir. Some people taking the drug note an increase in nasal congestion or can have feelings of depression, tiredness, or headache. Alternately, the medication may cause painful menstruation, general stomach pain, joint achiness, or feelings of nausea. These reactions can be mentioned to a doctor if they become bothersome.

In contrast, individuals using valaciclovir need to get a physician's care if they develop jaundice, red bumps on their skin, diarrhea or vomiting, or fainting. Additional adverse effects that fall into this category are unusual bleeding or bruises, swelling, or reduced urination. Help should also be sought for seizures, sudden confusion, and pronounced mood changes. Most people don’t have these dangerous adverse reactions and experience few to no benign or serious side effects while taking the drug.

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