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All about: valacyclovir

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Generic Name: valacyclovir (oral) (val a SYE kloe veer)
Brand Names: Valtrex

What is valacyclovir?

Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus so that the body can fight off the infection. Valacyclovir lessens the symptoms of these infections and shortens the length of time you are sick.

Valacyclovir is used in the treatment and suppression of genital herpes, shingles, and cold sores. Valacyclovir is not a cure for herpes virus infections.

Valacyclovir may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about valacyclovir?

Take all of the valacyclovir that has been prescribed for you even if you begin to feel better. Your symptoms may start to improve before the infection is completely treated.

Treatment with valacyclovir should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (e.g. tingling, burning, blisters).

Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people, even during treatment. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission.

Valacyclovir is not a cure for herpes virus infections.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking valacyclovir?

Do not take valacyclovir without first talking to your doctor if you are allergic to acyclovir (Zovirax). Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or immune system problems. You may need a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment with valacyclovir. Valacyclovir is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that it is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether valacyclovir passes into breast milk and how it may affect a nursing baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take valacyclovir?

Take valacyclovir exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Treatment with valacyclovir should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (e.g. for cold sores-tingling, burning, blisters).

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Valacyclovir can be taken with or without food. Taking valacyclovir with food may decrease stomach upset.

Take all of the valacyclovir that has been prescribed for you even if you begin to feel better. Your symptoms may start to improve before the infection is completely treated.

It is important to take valacyclovir regularly to get the most benefit.

Lesions caused by herpes viruses should be kept as clean and dry as possible. Wearing loose clothing may help to prevent irritation of the lesions.

Store valacyclovir at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take a double dose of this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical treatment if an overdose is suspected.

The symptoms of an overdose of valacyclovir are not well known, but an overdose of acyclovir (Zovirax), which is a similar drug, may cause seizures, hallucinations, and kidney damage (decreased urine production).

What should I avoid while taking valacyclovir?

Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people, even during treatment. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission.

Valacyclovir will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Avoidance of sexual intercourse and use of latex condoms may prevent spreading the virus to others.

Valacyclovir side effects

Stop taking valacyclovir and seek emergency medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives).

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take valacyclovir and talk to your doctor if you experience

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain;

  • headache;

  • dizziness; or

  • tremors.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect valacyclovir?

Probenecid (Benemid) and cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB) may increase the effects of valacyclovir and possibly lead to dangerous side effects. You may need a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you are taking probenecid or cimetidine.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with valacyclovir. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about valacyclovir written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Valacyclovir is available with a prescription under the brand name Valtrex. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Valtrex 500 mg--blue, capsule-shaped, film-coated tablets

  • Valtrex 1 gram-blue,, capsule-shaped, film-coated tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.01. Revision Date: 9/28/04 3:14:46 PM.

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