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Valtrex (valacyclovir) is an antiviral prescription medication which is used to treat patients who are suffering from outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, cold sores and shingles. This drug has been clinically proven to reduce the duration and the severity of outbreaks as well as limiting the occurrence of future outbreaks.
Genital Herpes Treatments:
While there is no cure for genital herpes there are effective forms of treatment that can help prevent future outbreaks. Currently all of the herpes treatment medications work as an antiviral and actually fight the virus itself, slowing it down and preventing it from spreading in the body.
What are Shingles and their Symptoms?
Shingles is a skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The herpes virus that causes shingles and chickenpox is not the same type of herpes that causes genital herpes. Most commonly it is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms without the flu
- Rash that can cover large areas of the body and looks like red shingles that can also have lesions or blisters; which can ooze blood and pus and crust over
- Achy muscles
How to Take Valtrex:
Only take this prescription drug exactly as directed to by a physician. Most often it will be prescribed to be taken 1-2 times per day with a full glass of water. If you miss a dose take it as soon as you can. This medication works best when taken on a full stomach.
How Does Valtrex Work?
This drug is an antiviral. It attacks the herpes simplex virus in the body and slows it down. When the virus is slowed down, the body has time to naturally react and to defend itself. The end result is a lessening in the duration and the severity of the symptoms, as well as a reduction in the occurrence of future outbreaks.
Side Effects of Valtrex Include:
Like all prescription drugs, there are some potential side effects which can occur when you are taking Valtrex. They include the following:
- Stomach pains
- In rare cases, a potentially serious allergic reaction can occur which can include the following symptoms: breathing difficulty, swelling of the lips, swelling of the mouth, swelling of the tongue, swelling of the face or an outbreak of hives—if you experience any of these rare yet serious side effects, STOP taking Valtrex and seek immediate medical attention.
It is very important that you tell your doctor about ALL of the drugs that you are currently taking in order to avoid any interactions. Some people may not be able to take Valtrex including: people that are taking drugs containing Probenecid (Benemid) and cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB); women who are currently pregnant or nursing; and those who suffer from kidney disease or immune deficiencies. Only your doctor will be able to tell you if Valtrex is right for you.
Important Patient InformationVALACYCLOVIR - ORAL (val-uh-SYE-klo-veer) COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Valtrex
IMPORTANT: HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
USES: Valacyclovir is used to treat infections caused by certain types of viruses. In children, it is used to treat cold sores around the mouth (caused by herpes simplex) and chickenpox (caused by varicella zoster). In adults, it is used to treat shingles (caused by herpes zoster) and cold sores around the mouth. Valacyclovir is also used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes. In people with frequent outbreaks, this medication is used to reduce the number of future episodes. Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug. It stops the growth of certain viruses. However, it is not a cure for these infections. The viruses that cause these infections continue to live in the body even between outbreaks. Valacyclovir decreases the severity and length of these outbreaks. It helps the sores heal faster, keeps new sores from forming, and decreases pain/itching. This medication may also help reduce how long pain remains after the sores heal.
HOW TO USE: Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking valacyclovir and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Take valacyclovir by mouth, with or without food, as directed by your doctor. Drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication to lower the chance of side effects. The dosage and length of treatment are based on your type of infection, medical condition, and response to treatment. For treating chickenpox in children, the dosage is also based on weight. This medication works best when started at the first sign of an outbreak, as directed by your doctor. It may not work as well if you delay treatment. For shingles or chickenpox, start taking valacyclovir at the first symptom or as soon as possible after the rash appears. For cold sores or genital herpes, start taking this medication at the first sign or as soon as you feel tingling, itching, or burning. Valacyclovir works best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. Continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished. Do not change your dose, skip any doses, or stop this medication early without your doctor's approval. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, stomach pain, headache, or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations), trouble speaking, shaky/unsteady movements, change in the amount of urine. This medication may rarely cause a life-threatening disorder that affects the blood cells, kidneys, and other parts of the body. This disorder is more likely to occur if you have conditions related to a weakened immune system (such as HIV disease, bone marrow transplant, kidney transplant). Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: extreme tiredness, slow/fast/irregular heartbeat, easy bruising/bleeding, new fever, bloody/dark urine, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, sudden vision changes, loss of consciousness, seizures. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: See also Side Effects section. Before taking valacyclovir, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to acyclovir; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney problems. This drug may rarely make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Do not have certain immunizations/vaccinations (such as vaccines against the varicella virus) without the consent of your doctor. Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially mental/mood changes (such as confusion, agitation) and kidney problems (such as a change in the amount of urine). Cold sores can spread easily. Avoid close physical contact with others (such as kissing) during an outbreak until the cold sores have completely healed. Try not to touch the cold sore. If you do, wash your hands afterward. Valacyclovir does not prevent the spread of herpes. To lower the chance of giving genital herpes to your partner, do not have sexual contact during an outbreak or if you have symptoms. You can spread genital herpes even if you do not have symptoms. Therefore, always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. This medication passes into breast milk, but is unlikely to harm a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Some products that may interact with this drug include: other drugs that may cause kidney problems (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen). Valacyclovir is very similar to acyclovir. Do not use medications containing acyclovir while using valacyclovir.
OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: change in the amount of urine, extreme tiredness, mental/mood changes, loss of consciousness, seizures.
MISSED DOSE: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.