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About Valtrex

If you use Valtrex, please help others by adding your feedback. What would you tell your best friend about this product? Please remember that we do not give medical advice. That is for your local health care provider, who is familiar with your medical history.

Subj: Increased risk of cancers
Date: 6/20/2010
Please inform people who have the herpes virus that they are at a greater risk of getting anal cancer or head and neck cancers. And yes you can get oral cancer from oral sex. Having just completed treatment for anal cancer and suffering from a herpes and shingles outbreak in the anal area during treatment I am now on Valtrex and I am choosing to stay on it for maintenance, against my oncologist wishes, he said long term use can affect the liver and yet I have not been able to find anything to support his accusation. Please advise me. I also have had a recent bout with atrial fib, which landed me in the hospital for 5 days and I too am having a lot of neck and shoulder pain which I havent had in years. Please advise me I dont want to experience the pain of an outbreak again!

AskDocWeb: Hi Tris, thanks for posting your experience. Before you go against the advice of your doctor, why not ask them for a reference that supports their assertion. Remember that doctors are paid for their professional opinion. Getting your questions answered is part of getting your money's worth.

The degree of increased risk of cancers for those with herpes is still being researched. However, there is an interesting turn of events in the news coming out of London. They are using a genetically manipulated herpes virus that, once injected into a tumor, grows inside cancer cells but does not infect the healthy cells. It literally kills the cancer cells from the inside out. This engineered herpes virus has several effects -- it multiplies in cancer cells, kills tumor cells and produces a human protein that activates the immune system.

Researchers at the Royal Marsden Hospital have discovered encouraging results when combining this treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat patients with head and neck cancer. Dr. Kevin Harrington, the study leader at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said that the virus is a potential weapon against head and neck cancer and also possibly skin cancer. Harrington said that the treatment involving the herpes virus was most effective on patients when the cancer was detected early. Of the 17 patients injected with the virus, 93 percent showed no trace of cancer after their tumor had been surgically removed. Two years later, 82 percent of those patients had not relapsed. Typically, 35 to 55 percent of patients given the usual chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments relapse after two years, so the trial was seen as a huge success. Further testing needs to take place before herpes is used as part of a standard treatment for any type of cancer, but doctors are hopeful about the possibilities.

Subj: Valtrex side effects
Date: 6/28/2010
I've been taking valtrex for almost 3 yrs as a supressant. Initially I experienced headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, abdominal pain and bloating. The side effects were almost as bad as the outbreak's themselves, but it was the only med that helped bring under control (and eventurally suppress)the reocurring out OB's. After about 3 mo. the side effects subsided. But they do immediately return if I miss taking a dose for 2 days. However for weeks now, I have been feeling all of the side effects even though I've not missed a single dose in months. In addition to the prev side effects, my skin is now very sensitive to sunlight (I am Latin with light tan skin and had no problem tanning), I have developed extremely dry skin from my abdomen to my toes and my once thick curly hair has fallen out, and in no way resembles what it once was. My dr. has never ordered any blood work to check or monitor my kidney's or liver. I would like to get off Valtrex but I am concern of the return of OB as well as increasing the already unbearable side effects. Anyone out there having the same problem? Has anyone quit valtrex after yrs of taking it?

Subj: How long do side effects last?
Date: 7/1/2010
I have just taken 1000Mg of Valtrex in the pill form. I was just wondering how long could the side effects last for. I usually feel slight mood changed while on the medication. However, that may be due tot he cold sore itself. I have just smoked a cigarette with a friend who has a cold sore and took 1000 mg to prevent myself from getting one. Just wondering how long will this dose affect me for. I know the halflife is 2.5-3.5 hrs just wondering if the side effects last longer. Thank you,

AskDocWeb: Side effects may last from a few hours to a few days after discontinuing.

Subj: Genital herpes
Date: 7/9/2010
I was recently diagnosed with genital herpes and am on Valtrex (1 gram/twice a day for 10 days). This is day 7 and while the sore is gone, I still feel tenderness and some throbbing. Is this normal? Also, my wedding is in two months - I would hate to have an outbreak during that time! Would taking Valtrex a few days before the wedding help stop any potential outbreak? Thank you.

AskDocWeb: It is normal for the tenderness and throbbing may last a few days after the sore is gone. Taking Valtrex before an outbreak to prevent one is called suppression therapy. That is something to talk with your doctor about.

Subj: No side effects over 10 years
Date: 7/10/2010
I have been on 1 gram of Valtrex daily for over 10 years now. My doctor just checks my live function once a year. I have not had any side effects of taking it long term.

Subj: Rash
Date: 7/22/2010
I was prescribed a week of Valtrex after a shingles diagnosis. On Day 2, I woke up with a rash over most of my body, with the exception of my face and hands. It is particularly severe on my thighs and abdomen. I went back to the physician who said I would be better off if I lived with the rash and continued on with the medication. It is very uncomfortable: more so than the shingles. I assume this is the photosensitive reaction mentioned on the list of side effects? I am trying to ease the redness and itching with oral Benadryl and topical sprays. Any thoughts?

AskDocWeb: Although it is uncommon Valtrex may cause an abnormal reaction to sunlight called photosensitivity, which results in a rash to exposed skin. Other medications that may make the skin more sensitive to sunlight include most of the tetracycline antibiotics, heart drugs amiodarone, and sulfonamides.

Subj: Hypersensitivity to the Valtrex
Date: 7/25/2010
Living with genital herpes for almost 25 yrs and started valtrex 1gm daily about 2 years ago. I didn't notice much change in outbreaks that come monthly with menses. I did however have facial/throat itching, inflamed pores to cheeks and small whitehead bumps around mouth/chin that blistered. Saw my doctor but no connection made to valtrex and no other exposure contacts during period in question. Decided to cut dose to 500mg which didn't change outcome. So, I changed to taking the 1gm a week before my menses because I found that waiting until the start was too late. This seemed to work for about 3 months and now the outbreaks are back and so are the symptoms I had from the start. I really believe this is a reaction and hypersensitivity to the valtrex. Does anyon else have similar experinces with a long history of herpes with use of suppressive therapy more than 20 years after initial diagnosis? What can I do as alternative therapy and where is the research for a cure?

AskDocWeb: The best alternative therapy we have seen to date is a daily supplement of L-lysine. It appears that L-lysine is an effective agent for reducing the number of occurrences, severity, and healing time for recurrent HSV infections. If you want to get involved in the research for a cure, start by talking with your doctor. Let him know that you are interested in participating in a study and see what he recommends. Please note that there are some health concerns with using lysine

Subj: Ankylosing spondylitis
Date: 7/27/2010
Is it safe to take valtrex if you have Ankylosing Spondolitis?

AskDocWeb: We didn't find any counterindications or reports of problems doing that but you would have to check with your doctor to be sure. Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term disease that causes inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones, and the joints between the spine and pelvis. The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown. The course of the disease is unpredictable, and there is no known way to prevent it. This is one of the diseases on which we really need more research.

Subj: Explosive diarrhea and fecal incontinence
Date: 7/29/2010
Does Valtrex cause fecal incontenance? I have taken it for an outbreak of genital herpes and by the second or third dose, I had explosive diarrhea and incontenance.

AskDocWeb: Diarrhea is listed as one of the possible side effects of Valtrex that occurs in less than one percent of users. Incontinence is not listed but because diarrhea is more difficult to control than formed stool, diarrhea can lead to fecal incontinence.

Subj: Severe itching
Date: 8/3/2010
I've been taking Valtrex for 9 days for HSV1 suppression. I began experiencing burning and itching and breakouts very similar to my first one five years ago. My doctor told me to stop taking the Valtrex yesterday and come in to see her in a couple days. Last night, I was awakened by severe itching on my left arm that quickly traveled all over my body. I erupted in hives and my face started to swell. I went to the ER, and they were able to help me. All indicators point to the Valtrex as the culprit. When I got home afterwards, I wanted some cheese; I'd had some earlier in the day. I noticed white mold on it. Could it have been the mold instead of the Valtrex, especially since I hadn't had any adverse reactions while taking it...only after I skipped my dose yesterday?

AskDocWeb: That is a possibility, a number of studies have suggested that exposure to mold can trigger allergic reaction. Toxic reactions to mold may also occur as a result of eating mold-contaminated foods. In high concentrations, mold can trigger symptoms even in individuals who have no allergies. If food appears moldy, do not smell it to find out if it is spoiled because just inhaling mold spores can set off an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions to mold include the following symptoms:
  • Dermatitis (skin rash or irritation)
  • Fatigue
  • Hay fever-type symptoms
  • Headache
  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Red eyes
  • Respiratory problems, such as cough, sneezing, wheezing, infection, and/or difficulty in breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sneezing
  • Watery, reddened, or burning eyes
  • Nose and throat irritation
Although healthy individuals are usually not vulnerable to opportunistic infections from airborne mold, molds can also cause common skin diseases, such as athlete's foot, as well as other infections such as yeast infections.

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2007-2010 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Valtrex and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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