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Aciclovir is a synthetic compound used to treat certain types of
viral infections. It does not cure viral infections but instead
treats symptoms; lessening the severity and duration, and in some
cases preventing recurrent episodes altogether.
Since the introduction of Aciclovir in 1983 it has become the
widely prescribed antiviral medication in the world.
Who Uses Aciclovir?
Aciclovir is most frequently prescribed for treatment of:
- Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infections
- Epstein Barr Virus
- Genital Herpes episodes
In cream form Aciclovir may also be used to treat cold sores on the
lips or face.
How Does it Work?
Aciclovir interacts with an enzyme found in certain types of
viruses, which interferes with the ability of the virus to
replicate and thrive. In other words, Aciclovir helps suppress the
virus so the immune system can better combat the outbreak.
Some viral infections, such as genital herpes, are incurable.
Aciclovir will lessen the severity and duration of outbreaks but
will not cure the infection.
How is it Taken?
Aciclovir is available as a capsule, tablet, liquid form, and
Aciclovir is not absorbed into the bloodstream very well, so it may
need to be taken as often as 5 times a day. Frequency and dosage
strength will vary widely between patients and depends on the
condition being treated. Physician instructions should be followed
carefully for best results.
Patients treating recurrent episodes typically have the medication
on hand and begin taking it as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Treatment may continue for several days or weeks depending the
condition being treated and severity of the outbreak.
For other viral infections this medication may be taken for weeks
or months at a stretch regardless of symptoms.
It is important to stay hydrated while taking Aciclovir to maximize
effectiveness and mitigate potential side effects.
Active ingredient: aciclovir
Inactive ingredients, capsules: sodium lauryl sulfate, lactose,
corn starch, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, gelatin,
FD&C Blue No. 2
Inactive ingredients, tablets: povidone, magnesium stearate,
sodium starch glycolate, microcrystalline cellulose, FD&C Blue
Patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients
in Aciclovir should not take this product. Aciclovir get capsules
may contain lactose.
Aciclovir is a remarkably safe medication. Side effects are
uncommon and usually very mild:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Mild confusion
- Itchy skin
There is a risk in patients with kidney disease that use of
Aciclovir may cause further kidney damage.
In rare cases Aciclovir may lower white blood cell counts in some
There are no known adverse effects on nursing or unborn babies
associated with Aciclovir use; however, as with any medication, a
physician should be consulted and the product should be used only
if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Contraindications and Interactions:
Patients with a history of kidney disease or impairment should
use this medication with caution and be alert to any symptoms of
Aciclovir is known to interact with certain other medications. It
is important that the prescribing physician is made aware of all
medications, including non-prescription, being taken, as well as
any other medical conditions.
Patients should read the information provided with the medication
for a complete list of possible adverse effects and interactions
prior to taking this or any other medication.
As mentioned above, Aciclovir is the most widely prescribed
antiviral medication in the world. Through decades of widespread
use it has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for
alleviating the symptoms of viral infections.
While not all viral infections can be cured, with Aciclovir
outbreaks can be confidently and effectively managed.