Valacyclovir: description, indications, side effects

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Valacyclovir: description, indications, side effects

Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug that actively fights various types of herpes. The healing effect of the medication also includes those types of herpes that other medicines cannot cure. The drug is approved for the treatment of both adults and children.

Composition and form of release

A small oval tablet contains 500 mg of valacyclovir hydrochloride, which is the active ingredient of the drug. The composition also includes additional components: microcrystals of cellulose, crospovidone, hypromellose, magnesium stearate.

After manufacturing the tablets are packed in packs of 10 boxes The boxes contain 1-6 blisters.

Drug action is intended to destroy the pathogenic virus in the human body.┬áThis is due to the fact that after entering the gastrointestinal tract, valacyclovir disintegrates, forming a new active substance – acyclovir.

Acyclovir has a suppressive effect on the herpes simplex virus. It destroys the structure of the pathogenic virus, so that the rash stops spreading throughout the body and gradually recedes.

In addition, the substance:

  1. Stops the development of new rashes and their spread on the skin.
  2. Prevents the occurrence of complications of internal organs.
  3. Accelerates crust formation.
  4. Reduces pain in the acute phase of herpes zoster.

Despite its anti-inflammatory effect, Valacyclovir is not an antibiotic. The drug is able to remove the symptoms of an exacerbation of the disease, but the herpes virus is not completely removed. Valacyclovir attacks only viral cells without violating the integrity of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Indications and contraindications

Despite the rather narrow specificity of the action, Valacyclovir is used in several directions. The drug is prescribed both when small blisters appear on the lips, and when genital herpes is detected. A complete list of indications includes:

  • acute manifestations of herpes at the initial stages of the disease;
  • relapses;
  • exacerbation of chronic herpes;
  • to prevent the transmission of genital infections.

In some cases, it is required to start taking the medication within two days from the moment the first symptoms are detected. This applies to treatment or prevention:

  • infectious diseases caused by herpes;
  • cytomegalovirus infection.

The course of treatment started on time affects the effectiveness of drug therapy. So, with shingles, it is recommended to start taking the medication within the first 3 days from the moment the primary symptoms appear. This will help avoid the development of complications.

Valacyclovir is strongly discouraged if at least one of the possible contraindications is observed:

  • hypersensitivity to the active substance or other components of the drug;
  • organ transplant within six months;
  • weakened immunity;
  • under 12 years of age when treating mild herpes;
  • age less than 2 years and more than 18 years in the treatment of chickenpox;
  • genital herpes and herpes zoster in patients under 18 years of age;
  • renal failure.

In such situations, only in extreme cases, the doctor can prescribe Valacyclovir. Throughout the entire course, the patient must be under strict supervision, so that in the event of negative reactions of the body, the dosage of the drug can be adjusted within a short time.

Method of administration and dosage

According to the instructions for use, Valacyclovir tablets must be taken orally with water. It is necessary to repeat the reception at regular intervals to maintain a certain amount of the active substance in the blood.

The effect of the drug appears several hours after taking the first dose. You may notice a decrease in the intensity of the main symptoms, such as pain and itching. Over the next 2-3 days, the discomfort completely disappears. Treatment of severe forms of herpes can take 11-15 days. General guidelines for dosages, according to the radar (register of medicines): 

  • common herpes – 1 tablet 2 times a day for 3-5 days;
  • primary genital herpes – 2 tablets twice a day, course – 10 days;
  • recurrent genital herpes – 1 tablet twice a day, 3 days;
  • chronic form of genital herpes – 2 tablets once a day, course – 10 days;
  • the partner of the infected patient – 1 tablet once a day, the course is 3-5 days;
  • shingles – 1000 mg per day, duration – a week;
  • 12-year-old patients with common herpes – 1 tablet twice a day for 3-4 days;
  • with chickenpox in babies, you need to calculate the dosage at the rate of 20 mg per kilogram of weight, but not more than 2 tablets per 1 dose, the course of treatment should not exceed 5 days.

Any deviations from the indicated dosages should be discussed with your doctor.

Side effects

In case of drug overdose or chronic liver and kidney disease, unpleasant side effects may occur. In addition, sensitivity to the composition of the drug can become the cause of poor health. The following negative reactions are common:

  • nausea, dull pain under the ribs, vomiting, eating disorders, sudden changes in weight, liver disease;
  • disturbances in the work of the kidneys, shortness of breath;
  • migraine, dizziness, difficulty in consciousness and hallucinations, mental disorders, disorientation, fainting, coma;
  • rash on the body, itching, swelling, urticaria;
  • a decrease in the number of neurocytes and platelets in the blood, which leads to atypical anemia and vasculitis;
  • high blood pressure, fever, chronic fatigue, dehydration.

Less commonly, there are cases of changes in blood counts, uncontrolled convulsions, pain in the muscles, increased sensitivity to light, and heart rhythm disturbances.

special instructions

Doctors recommend using Valacyclovir with caution in case of problems with kidney function. If the dosage is incorrectly calculated, complications are possible in the form of the development of renal failure or disturbances in the functioning of the nervous system.

Elderly patients should consume plenty of water while taking the medication. There is a high probability of severe dehydration due to the constituents of Valacyclovir.

For the safety of a partner, it is worth refraining from sex during the course of treatment, since the drug does not protect against transmission of the virus.

The drug has not previously been prescribed to children under 12 years of age, so there is no data on possible side effects in this category of patients. To avoid possible negative reactions, the medication is not prescribed for children.

If you have recently had an organ transplant or HIV has been detected, taking Valacyclovir can lead to clogged blood clots, a sharp decrease in white blood cells, and even death.

The course should be discontinued in case of convulsions, hallucinations, difficulty of consciousness or fever.

Application during pregnancy and lactation

The question of whether it is worth taking Valacyclovir to pregnant women raises a lot of controversy. Due to the potential threat to the life of the fetus, the drug is allowed to be prescribed only in case of a real risk to the health of the mother.

There are also restrictions for nursing mothers, as the drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, you should stop feeding during treatment.

Alcohol compatibility

Drinking alcohol while taking the medication is prohibited. Moreover, the rule applies to low-alcohol drinks. You can drink alcohol for the last time a day before the start of treatment. 

The negative effect of mixing alcohol with Valacyclovir is the likely development of gastrointestinal ulcers and internal bleeding. Most often, patients who consumed alcohol during treatment complain of buzzing in their ears, migraines, and loss of strength.

In addition, alcohol significantly reduces the effectiveness of the drug by suppressing the immune system, which makes it possible for herpes to develop more actively.

Difference between Acyclovir and Valacyclovir

Both drugs are very similar in characteristics, so Valacyclovir and Acyclovir are usually prescribed for treatment. What is the difference, patients do not understand and often try to find out the details from the doctor.

Differences between drugs usually matter in certain situations, such as treating children under 3 years of age. In this case, Acyclovir is prescribed, since it has more flexible indications for use.

You can understand which is better, Valacyclovir or Acyclovir, when comparing the main characteristics. The main differences are in the following parameters:

  1. Release form . Valacyclovir is available only in tablet form. Acyclovir can be purchased in a variety of forms.
  2. Assimilation . Compared with Acyclovir, Valacyclovir has a faster absorption by the body.
  3. Duration of the course . If you take Valacyclovir in high dosages, the full recovery of the body will take less time than when taking Acyclovir. However, the final dosage and duration of therapy is determined by the attending physician.

If we compare both drugs, then the short duration and rapid absorption of Valacyclovir are significant advantages.

Drug analogs

In addition to Acyclovir, there are other analogues of Valacyclovir. If necessary, you can replace it with an analogue with a similar action. It is important to remember that it is possible to change the remedy only with the permission and on the recommendation of the attending physician, since the analogue may differ in its effect on the herpes virus. Among the analogs, they usually choose:

  • Ribavirin . The main active ingredient is ribavirin. The product can be purchased in the form of tablets, capsules or powder. It is most commonly used to treat hepatitis and fever, as well as respiratory diseases. In some cases, it can be used for certain types of herpes.
  • Famvir . Famciclovir is responsible for the antiviral effect. The drug comes in tablets and is effective for various manifestations of herpes.
  • Arviron . The active ingredient is ribavirin. It is mainly used to combat hepatitis C, but is often used to treat various pathologies of viral origin.
  • Walvir . The main component of Valvir is valacyclovir. It is produced in pill form and is prescribed to destroy cytomegalovirus infection.
  • Valtrex . Valacyclovir is the active ingredient. It is highly effective in treating the symptoms of herpes, chickenpox and other viral diseases.

In the absence of improvement or the appearance of adverse reactions, you should urgently consult your doctor about possible adjustments. Usually the problem is solved by reducing the dosage or selecting another drug.

Interaction with other medicines

Information on negative reactions of the body to the simultaneous administration of Valacyclovir with other drugs was not found. However, some combinations can significantly increase the load on the work of individual organs, so the following recommendations should be considered:

  • When Valacyclovir is taken together with Cimetidine, the process of removing Valacyclovir from the body is disrupted. This can lead to an increased content of the active substance.
  • Combination with Mycophenolate can negatively affect the kidneys.
  • Simultaneous reception with Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus leads to an increase in the load on the kidneys and can cause kidney disease.

The rest of the drug is well absorbed along with other drugs.

Price in Russia

The price of Valacyclovir tablets in Russia ranges from 500 to 750 rubles per pack of 10 tablets. Together with the tablets, a special ointment containing valacyclovir may be prescribed. Its price is slightly lower – 200 rubles.

Patient reviews

Based on people’s feedback, you can learn about the real experience of taking Valacyclovir and the most common side effects.

Marina. An effective drug, the effect of which is noticeable from the very beginning of administration. Valacyclovir was prescribed to treat genital herpes and then relapse. The itching went away immediately, after a couple of days the rashes also went away. I bought Valacyclovir Canon, but the pharmacy said that tablets from this manufacturer could not always be found in pharmacies, so look for or choose another option. 

Ilya. When I got another cold on my lip, on the recommendation of a pharmacist, I bought this particular drug at the pharmacy. I drank it according to the instructions, but the rash went away only after a week, as usual without treatment. Perhaps I started the treatment too late, or the dosage was small, but I did not notice much effect. The schedule for taking Valacyclovir seemed to me not very convenient, since you can easily forget to take your medicine with you to work and skip the appointment. 

Victoria. After a severe cold, herpes zoster appeared. The symptoms included burning sensations when touching the body and wearing clothes. The form of reception seemed convenient, since when using the ointment, clothes would stick to the skin and get dirty. After a week of taking herpes, the herpes disappeared, but the first symptoms began to disappear at the very beginning. Despite the fact that all is well, the price of the drug seems overpriced to me.

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