Herpes: An Insidious Disease Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3406 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease

The primary symptoms of EBV include fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands, and in more severe cases a swollen spleen or liver (CDC, 2002). Generally the symptoms of infectious mono last for between 1 or 2 months, though the disease like other forms of herpes lies dormant in a person for several years, and may reactivate from time to time, though usually without symptoms of illness (CDC, 2002).

Transmission of the disease generally occurs through saliva to saliva contact (CDC, 2002). Once a person has been exposed symptoms may not appear for up to six weeks, but the person has the ability to spread the disease during this entire time (CDC, 2002).

There are no specific treatments for EBV except to treat the symptoms, though anti-virals have been made available, and some steroids may reportedly decrease the length and severity of the illness (CDC, 2002).

Primary Treatment

The treatment protocol for most forms of Herpes is the same. Presently there is no cure for herpes, though some drugs including antivirals are being used to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks (Herpes, 2004). One of the more common drugs is Isoprinosine which has the ability to stimulate the bodies immune response and act as an anti-viral agent, though it is still under investigation in the U.S. (Herpes, 2004).

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There are currently many investigations going on that are focusing on discovering a vaccine for herpes, and studies suggest that a vaccine may be developed within the next 3-5 years (Herpes, 2004). A vaccine has been developed to help prevent chicken pox in children (Herpes, 2004). A vaccine will only affect immunity in those who have not been exposed to the virus however, it will not help the thousands of people that have already been exposed to the virus (Herpes, 2004).


As anti-viral medications are the more commonly prescribed drug to help treat herpes, they deserve further exploration.

Term Paper on Herpes: An Insidious Disease of Assignment

The three most common anti-viral medications prescribed for treatment of herpes are acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. Acyclovir is considered the first effective agent against the herpes disease, but it isn't necessarily considered the most convenient, primarily because its actions are very short lasting (IHMF, 2004). It can be taken to treat episodes or acute outbreaks of herpes to reduce the severity or to shorten the duration (IHMF, 2004).

Acyclovir is also sometimes used as a suppressive agent to reduce the frequency of outbreaks in patients that have several outbreaks per year (IHMF, 2004). Clinical trials have in fact shown that it may reduce the number of recurrences from 11 to less than 2 per year (IHMF, 2004).

Valaciclovir like Acyclovir is used to treat acute outbreaks of the virus (IHMF, 2004). It helps reduce the severity of sores and helps lesions heal faster, generally cutting down the time in which an active lesion and the virus can be detected on the skin of patients (IHMF, 2004). For some patients, if they take this drug when they first notice tingling and burning sensations they may be able to completely prevent the development of tell tale blisters associated with herpes (IHMF, 2004). Clinical trials suggests that valaciclovir successful prevented development of blisters in 1/3 of patients who took the drug within 24 hours of first noticing symptoms (IHMF, 2004).

Valaciclovir may also be used as a suppressive agent. Famciclovir is also used to reduce the time that a patient is suffering from an outbreak, and also works to decrease the severity of pain that is associated with an outbreak (IHMF, 2004). It is more often used as a form of suppressive therapy.

Research on Famciclovir suggests that it can reduce the frequency of outbreaks by as much as 72%, and 2 to 3 more patients were shown to be outbreak free when they took famciclovir over a placebo in Clinical trials of the drugs efficacy (IHMF, 2004).

Generally the side effects associated with anti-viral use are considered minimal and may include symptoms such as a headache or nausea (IHMF, 2004). For most people these relatively minor side effects are much more welcome that an active outbreak of herpes.

When anti-viral medications are taken for acute outbreaks (as episodic therapy) it is generally recommended that they are taken up to five times per day for up to one week (IHMF, 2004). Generally suppressive therapy requires that a patient take a tablet only once per day, sometimes twice if a patient is experiencing active outbreaks (IHMF, 2004). Again, most patients are willing to put up with the prospect of taking a pill daily indefinitely if it will result in an almost permanent reduction of symptoms and outbreaks.

There is some evidence to suggest that supplementation with the amino acid Lysine may help control herpes when combined with a diet that is high in lysine and low in the amino acid arginine (Herpes, 2004; Griffith, 1987). Foods that are high in lysine include the following: chicken, lamb, beef, fish, beans, vegetables and cheese (Herpes, 2004).

Lysine is though to work because it consists of certain proteins that are capable of enveloping the herpes virus and thus suppress it (Herpes, 2004).

Stress management may also be an effective technique for lessening the impact of Herpes. Stress has been identified as one of the triggers that may cause recurrent outbreaks of herpes in patients (Wood, 1986). Thus one might consider stress management techniques as an additional treatment option for managing both HSV-1 and HSV-2 outbreaks. Along with this is the idea that a healthy diet and lifestyle that incorporates exercise, all of which help boost the immune system, may contribute to a decreased incidence of herpes outbreaks in patients carrying the disease (Wood, 1986).

Living With Herpes

Despite the fact that so many people in the population suffer from herpes, it is one of those diseases that carries with it a stigma. Most people who have lesions do everything possible to hide them, and often suffer from depression or self-esteem issues when an outbreak occurs.

It is important that patients diagnosed with herpes learn as much as possible about the condition so they can prevent future spread of the disease through sexual contact and manage their illness to the best of their ability.

With knowledge of the disease comes the opportunity to engage in preventive behaviors. As this paper has shown, a number of lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet, managing stress and possibly supplementing with certain amino acids or anti-virals may help reduce the severity of future outbreaks among the population at large.

Herpes is often associated with other conditions including anxiety and depression, which usually result when a person does not have an adequate support foundation or network of people that can help them understand and cope with the illness (Herpes, 2004). Because there is no cure for Herpes, and most people who contract herpes are generally young, diagnosis of the disease for some may be devastating.

This is particularly the case for young adults that have been diagnosed with genital herpes. The best method of prevention for diseases like genital herpes is education. Unfortunately for many education comes long after first exposure. For others who are infected in childhood, there is little recourse other than disease management and lifestyle changes in the future geared toward healthy living and coping.

Fortunately there are numerous support networks available for patients with Herpes. Many of these are online, so that patients can seek anonymous help and support regarding their disease.

Among physicians there is less and less stigma associated with a diagnosis of herpes, and prescriptions for anti-viral medications are more commonly dispersed as more and more patients come down with the disease.

The best someone can do that has herpes is learn to cope with their disease and manage symptoms to the best of their ability to prevent future recurrences. Education is also important so patients can learn not recognize the early symptoms of an outbreak such as burning, numbness and tingling (Herpes, 2004). Advanced treatment with anti-virals when these symptoms are noticed may result in a lessening of symptoms and the duration of the illness, which will improve a persons overall sense of health and well being.

For patients that are having an extremely difficult time coping with herpes and dealing with associated psychological dysfunctions such as severe depression or anxiety, treatment using suppressive therapy is often recommended. Suppressive therapy works to limit the frequency of future outbreaks, and is generally successful for minimizing outbreaks by as much as 70% in patients with frequent recurrences (IHMF, 2004).


Herpes is one of the most common viral infections plaguing mankind today. Studies suggest that one in five people will have some form of herpes by the time they become an adult. Most people contract herpes when they are young, particularly when they are children. Though there is currently no cure for herpes, there is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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