Friday, September 12, 2008

Herpes - Affects An estimated 80 Million Americans!

By Richard H Ealom

INTRODUCTION: Herpes is a very common infection caused by two different but closely related viruses. Simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and Simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). It infects the nervous system, altering the DNA of the nerve cells supplying the skin through which it entered. It may also play a role in the spread of HIV, the virus that is said to produce AIDS. The virus is spread by touching, kissing, and sexual intimacy, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It is most contagious when sores are open and "weeping" until the scabs heal and fall off. Herpes is estimated to affect as many as 80 million Americans.

SYMPTOMS: include feeling like you have the flu and blisters that appear and then burst in the genital area, causing painful sores which may include burning feelings if urine flows over sores, unable to urinate if severe swelling of sores blocks the urethra, itching in the infected area.

Severe 1st episodes may have symptoms that include swollen, tender lymph glands in the groin, throat, and under the arms, fever, chills, headache, general feelings of malaise, achy, influenza-like feelings. Flare-ups usually heal in 10 days to 2 weeks. They may be more painful and last longer in women or men with illnesses that weaken the immune system like leukemia and HIV.

Outbreaks usually start with pain, tenderness, or itching in the genital area and may also include fever and headache. Avoid physical contact with the area from the time of the 1st symptoms (tingling, itching, burning) until all sores are totally healed, not just scabbed-over.

SORES: The first outbreak usually occurs within two weeks after transmission, and the sores typically heal within two to four weeks. They may also show up inside the mouth, but this usually only happens the first time oral symptoms appear. Also it is possible to get genital herpes from cold sores. Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of sores, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. Genital herpes can cause recurrent painful sores in many adults, and infections can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems. There may be some early warning signs before an outbreak occurs such as tingling, burning, or itching where sores were before.

TREATMENT: There is no known cure for the disease, but antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication. Treatment should begin at the first signs of an outbreak for best results as far as duration and healing are concern. Should it begin before the lesions appear, it is possible that the outbreak can be averted. Recently valacyclovir was released to be used as a three day treatment for recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes. This is an effective approach that achieves the highest blood levels of medication available.

CONCLUSION: Herpes is an infection that is produced by a simplex virus. It can make people more susceptible to HIV infection, and it can make HIV-infected persons more infectious. It is contagious if the carrier is producing and shedding virus and can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms. Some are dramatic and fairly easy to recognize; others are subtle and may be ignored or confused with another ailment. The Virus is very contagious and can be passed from person to person through any kind of unprotected sex.

Studies indicate that more than 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with genital herpes every year, and the greatest increase is occurring in young teenagers. Efforts to produce a vaccine by biotechnology companies are ongoing. There is no cure to date.

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