Valtrex
Last Edited: April 16th, 2012

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Valtrex is the brand name for the drug valacyclovir, which is an anti-viral medication used to treat herpes and other viral infections such as the shingles virus caused by chickenpox. Both adults and children can use this medication provided they are administered the right dosage for their weight and condition. When taking Valtrex, it is important to know what to expect from the medication and any potential side effects it may have.

Basic Information

Valtrex is intended to shorten viral outbreaks, which are typically characterized by sores, itching, or pain. The drug does not cure the body or eliminate the virus, but instead works to shorten the time the virus is actively producing symptoms in the body. The medication can also prevent the formation of new sores when used for treating an active herpes virus. Anti-viral medications such as Valtrex are most effective if the medication is started as soon as signs of an outbreak appear, especially when attempting to shorten the duration of the outbreak.

Valtrex is a medication that can be used one to three times daily, and that is taken in dosages that are based on the severity of the symptoms and body weight. It is important to take the medicine at the same time each day to ensure the medication remains at a consistent level while fighting viruses in the body. Missed dosages should be taken as soon as possible unless it is time for the next dose of the medicine. If it is time for the next dosage of Valtrex, skip the missed dose and continue on the regular schedule provided by your doctor.

Side Effects

Valtrex does have some side effects. Although allergy to Valtrex is rare, some people are allergic to valacyclovir. An allergic reaction is characterized by swelling, difficulty breathing, and rash. These symptoms should be treated by emergency medical professionals immediately. The medication can also cause nausea, headaches, or abdominal pain. These common side effects should be monitored at home, and brought to the attention of your physician if they worsen over the course of the medication. More serious side effects include tiredness, heartbeat irregularities, and jaundice. These serious side effects are rare, but more common among those with lowered immunity or impaired immune systems.

Taking the medication as prescribed and working with your doctor to monitor any side effects that develop while taking the mediation is advised, especially when taking Valtrex for a long period of time to suppress viral outbreaks. It is also important to tell your doctor what other medications you are taking, especially if you are taking NSAIDs on a regular basis for pain or inflammation since these medications can interact with Valtrex.

Who Can Take Valtrex?

Valtrex can be used for the treatment of herpes, chicken pox, or shingles in patients over the age of twelve and by most healthy adults. The medication may not be prescribed for these conditions in patients who have AIDS or who have had a bone marrow transplant, or who are pregnant. In most cases, the medication is most effective when started within twenty-fours hours of the first signs of an outbreak, but can be used after this time period to shorten the duration of a herpes outbreak, chicken pox, or shingles.