is the generic name for an antiviral treatment used to prevent or
suppress symptoms caused by certain viruses:
- Herpes simplex virus type I & II
- Herpes labialis (chicken pox)
- Varicella zoster virus (shingles)
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Cytomegalovirus after an organ transplant
Once in the body valaciclovir breaks down into aciclovir
, which inhibits the
ability of viruses to duplicate and spread. This product is
superior to aciclovir in that valaciclovir is easier for the body
to absorb and utilize, thus is more effective in smaller
With valaciclovir inhibiting the replication and spread of the
virus the body is able to more effectively combat it, reducing the
severity of symptoms and promoting faster healing. Valaciclovir is
not a cure for viral infections.
This product is also sold under the brand name Valtrex
Treatment with Valaciclovir:
Valaciclovir comes in tablets, which should not be crushed or
split. Dosage strength and duration of treatment depends on the
condition being targeted. Standard doses for otherwise healthy
adults are as follows:
- Treating Shingles:
- 1000 mg 3 times a day for 7 days. Treatment should begin within
3 days of symptoms starting.
- Treating herpes:
- 1000 mg a day for 5 days. Treatment should begin at the
earliest signs of an outbreak, ideally within 72 hours.
- Preventing recurrent herpes outbreaks:
- 500 mg a day for 6 to 12 months, at which time effectiveness of
treatment should be evaluated.
- Preventing cytomegalovirus:
- 2000 mg 4 times a day for 3 months (90 days). Treatment should
commence immediately after an organ transplant.
- Treating Epstein-Barr Virus:
- Dosage strength varies by individual; usually between 500 mg to
1500 mg a day, but in some cases as high as 3000 mg. It may take
several months of treatment before improvements are
Valaciclovir is sometimes given to children to treat chicken pox
and in cases of organ transplants. A doctor should be consulted for
Because the medication suppresses the spread of the herpes virus,
transmission is somewhat less likely but is still possible
during sexual contact. Condoms should always be used and
intercourse should be avoided completely if sores or blisters are
Valaciclovir is safe for most adults as long as simple precautions
- Patients with liver or kidney disease should use this
medication with caution and discuss risks with a doctor.
- Some individuals become more sensitive to sunlight while taking
valaciclovir and may need avoid direct sunlight and tanning beds
for the duration of treatment.
- Drink plenty of fluids during treatment; it's easy to become
dehydrated while taking this medication.
- Physicians or dentists should be notified of valaciclovir use
before any medical or dental procedures are undertaken.
- There is a chance valaciclovir will interact with other
medications. Check with a pharmacist or doctor before mixing
- Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not take this
medication unless explicitly instructed to do so by a
It's important to complete treatment with valaciclovir even if
symptoms improve or disappear. Discontinuing treatment too soon
contributes to virus resistance.
Only a small percentage of patients experience side effects with
this treatment. Most are mild and do not warrant medical attention
unless they are severe or persist:
- Headache - non-prescription painkillers can be taken along with
- Nausea or stomachache - eating mild foods when taking a tablet
may help prevent stomach upset.
- Fatigue or vertigo - use caution when driving or operating
- Vomiting or diarrhea - Drink plenty of fluids to maintain
A rash or swelling of lips, eyes, tongue or throat indicate an
allergic reaction and call for immediate medical