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Valtrex (Valacyclovir)

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Quick overview

Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus so that the body can fight off the infection. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) will not cure herpes, but it can lessen the symptoms of the infection.

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What is Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)?
Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus so that the body can fight off the infection. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) will not cure herpes, but it can lessen the symptoms of the infection.Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) is used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses in adults and children. Illnesses caused by herpes viruses include genital herpes, cold sores, shingles, and chickenpox.Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) is used to treat cold sores in children who are at least 12 years old, and to treat chickenpox in children who are at least 2 years old.Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information about Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)
Before taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR), tell your doctor if you have HIV/AIDS, a weak immune system, kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis), or if you have had a kidney or bone marrow transplant. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) can be harmful to the kidneys, and these effects are increased when it is used together with other medicines that can harm the kidneys. Tell your doctor about all other medications you are using. You may need dose adjustments or special tests when taking certain medications together with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR).Treatment with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters).Herpes virus can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during your pregnancy so that you do not have a genital lesion when your baby is born. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people even while you are taking with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR).Stop taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) and call your doctor right away if you have any signs of a serious side effect that can harm red blood cells, such as: fever, easy bruising or bleeding, red spots on the skin (not related to herpes or chickenpox), bloody diarrhea, vomiting, pale or yellowed skin, weakness, fainting, or urinating less than usual or not at all.Do not give Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) to a child unless it has been prescribed by a doctor. 

Before taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)
Do not take this medicine if you are allergic to valacyclovir or acyclovir (Zovirax). If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication. Before taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR), tell your doctor if you have:HIV/AIDS, or other conditions that can weaken the immune system;kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis); orif you have had a kidney or bone marrow transplant.
FDA pregnancy category B. This medication is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. However, herpes virus can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during your pregnancy so that you do not have a genital lesion when your baby is born. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) passes into breast milk and may harm a nursing infant. Do not take this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not give Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) to a child unless it has been prescribed by a doctor. Older adults may be more likely to have harmful side effects while taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR). Talk to your doctor about your specific risk. 

How should I take Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)?
Take Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.Treatment with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters). This medication might not be as effective if you first start taking it 1 or 2 days after the start of your symptoms.Take each dose with a full glass of water. Drink plenty of water while you are taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) to keep your kidneys working properly. Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. To be sure you get the correct dose, measure the liquid with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) can be taken with or without food.
Take this medication for the entire length of time prescribed by your doctor. Your symptoms may get better before the infection is completely treated. Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu. 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 Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) tablets at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Store Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) liquid in a refrigerator. Do not freeze. Throw away any unused Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) that is older than 28 days. 

What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Overdose symptoms may include urinating less than usual or not at all.

What should I avoid while taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)?
Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people even while you are taking with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR).Avoid sexual intercourse or use a latex condom to prevent spreading the virus to others. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Avoid touching an infected area and then touching your eyes. Wash your hands frequently to prevent passing the infection to others.

Side effects of Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR):
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) and call your doctor right away if you have any of the following signs of a serious side effect that can harm red blood cells:fever, easy bruising or bleeding;red spots on the skin (not related to herpes or chickenpox);bloody diarrhea, vomiting;pale or yellowed skin;weakness or fainting; orurinating less than usual or not at all.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other serious side effects: pain in your lower back;drowsiness, mood changes, increased thirst, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting;swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath;confusion, agitation, aggression, hallucinations, trouble concentrating;feeling shaky or unsteady;problems with speech or vision; orseizure (convulsions).
Less serious Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) side effects may include:nausea, stomach pain;headache, dizziness, tired feeling, depression;jointpain;menstrualpain;mild skin rash; orstuffy nose, sore throat.This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. 

What other drugs will affect Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)?
Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR) can be harmful to the kidneys, and these effects are increased when it is used together with other medicines that can harm the kidneys. Before taking Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR), tell your doctor if you are also using:lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid);methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexal);pain or arthritis medicines such as aspirin (Anacin, Excedrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), diclofenac (Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and others;medicines used to treat ulcerative colitis, such as mesalamine (Pentasa) or sulfasalazine (Azulfidine);medicines used to prevent organ transplant rejection, such as sirolimus (Rapamune) or tacrolimus (Prograf);IV antibiotics such as amphotericin B (Fungizone, AmBisome, Amphotec, Abelcet), amikacin (Amikin), bacitracin (Baci-IM), capreomycin (Capastat), gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), streptomycin, or vancomycin (Vancocin, Vancoled);antiviral medicines such as adefovir (Hepsera), cidofovir (Vistide), or foscarnet (Foscavir); orcancer medicine such as aldesleukin (Proleukin), carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel), cisplatin (Platinol), ifosfamide (Ifex), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), plicamycin (Mithracin), streptozocin (Zanosar), or tretinoin (Vesanoid).This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR). Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

SIDE EFFECTS OF Valtrex (VALACYCLOVIR)

For the Consumer

Applies to valacyclovir: oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, valacyclovir (the active ingredient contained in Valtrex) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking valacyclovir:

More common
- Discouragement
- feeling sad or empty
- irritability
- lack of appetite
- loss of interest or pleasure
- tiredness
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping

Rare
- Black, tarry stools
- chest pain
- chills
- cough
- decreased frequency or output of urine
- fever
- flu-like symptoms
- headache
- lower back or side pain
- reduced mental alertness
- shortness of breath
- yellow eyes or skin

Incidence not known
- Actions that are out of control
- agitation
- anxiety
- back, leg, or stomach pains
- bleeding gums
- blood in urine or stools
- blurred vision
- change in consciousness
- change in mental status
- changes in behavior, especially in interactions with other people
- changes in patterns and rhythms of speech
- dark or bloody urine
- difficult or labored breathing
- difficulty speaking
- difficulty swallowing
- dizziness
- drowsiness
- dry mouth
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior
- feeling that others can hear your thoughts
- feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there
- general tiredness and weakness
- hyperventilation
- increased thirst
- itching
- lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position
- light-colored stools
- loss of consciousness
- mood or mental changes
- nausea and vomiting
- nervousness
- pale color of skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- pounding in the ears
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- redness of the skin
- restlessness
- seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
- seizures
- severe mood or mental changes
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- skin rash
- slurred speech
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- stiff neck
- swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs
- swollen or painful glands
- talking, feeling, and acting with excitement
- tightness in the chest
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- trouble in speaking
- troubled breathing
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
- unusual behavior
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- upper right abdominal pain
- vomiting
- weight gain
- wheezing

Some side effects of valacyclovir may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
- Body aches or pain
- cramps
- difficulty in moving
- ear congestion
- heavy bleeding
- loss of voice
- muscle aches
- muscle pain or stiffness
- nasal congestion
- pain
- pain in joints
- sneezing
- sore throat
- stuffy or runny nose

Less common
- Constipation
- diarrhea

Incidence not known
- Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- hair loss or thinning of the hair
- hives or welts
- increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight
- red, irritated eyes
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn

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