Why is this medication prescribed?
Varicella (chickenpox), herpes zoster (shingles; a rash that can happen to those who have had chickenpox in the past), and first-time or recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes are all conditions that can be treated with acyclovir to lessen pain and hasten the healing of sores or blisters (a herpes virus infection that causes sores to form around the genitals and rectum from time to time). In those who have the virus, acyclovir is occasionally used to stop genital herpes outbreaks. Acyclovir is a member of the synthetic nucleoside analogues class of antiviral drugs. It functions by preventing the herpes virus from spreading throughout the body. Acyclovir won’t treat genital herpes and might not be able to stop it from spreading to other people.
How should this medicine be used?
Acyclovir is available as a pill, capsule, and solution (liquid) for oral use. Additionally, it is offered as a delayed-release buccal tablet that is placed on the mouth’s upper gum. The tablets, capsules, and suspension are typically given two to five times daily, with or without meals, for five to ten days, beginning as soon as your symptoms appear. Acyclovir is often used two to five times a day for up to 12 months in order to prevent genital herpes outbreaks. The delayed-release buccal tablet is often administered as a single dose with a dry finger within an hour of the onset of the itching, redness, burning, or tingling associated with cold sores but prior to the appearance of the sore itself. Acyclovir should be taken or used daily at around the same time(s). Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any instructions on your prescription label that you are unsure about following. As prescribed, take or use acyclovir as advised. Take it just as directed by your doctor, and never take more, less, more frequently, or for a longer period of time.
The delayed-release buccal pills should not be chewed, crushed, sucked, or ingested. If you experience dry mouth while taking the delayed-release buccal tablets, drink lots of fluids.
To administer acyclovir buccally, do the following:
- Locate the region of your upper gum above your left and right incisor teeth (the teeth directly opposite your two front teeth on the left and right sides, respectively).
- Take one delayed-release pill out of the container with dry hands.
- Apply the tablet gently to the area of gum above one of your incisor teeth on the side of your mouth with the cold sore, as high up as your gum will allow. Applying it to the cheek or inside of the lip is not advised.
- The tablet should be held still for 30 seconds.
- Reposition the tablet so that it sticks to your gum if it is not sticking to your gum or if it is sticking to your cheek or the inside of your lip. Till the tablet dissolves, keep it in place.
- Don’t tamper with the tablet’s positioning. When you have finished eating, drinking, or rinsing, be sure the tablet is still in place.
Apply the same delayed-release buccal tablet again if it falls off within the first six hours of application. Apply a new tablet if it still won’t stay. Within the first six hours after application, if you mistakenly swallow the tablet, drink some water and apply a fresh tablet to your gum. Do not apply a fresh tablet until your next scheduled appointment if the first one is lost or consumed six hours or more after application.
When using acyclovir buccal delayed-release tablets, stay away from the following:
- Following administration of the buccal tablet, avoid chewing gum, touching, or pressing it.
- Never put on upper dentures.
- Till it melts, refrain from brushing your teeth. While the tablet is in place, gently rinse your mouth if you need to brush your teeth.
Before each use, thoroughly shake the suspension to combine the medication.
Throughout your acyclovir treatment, your symptoms need to become better. If your symptoms do not go away or worsen, contact your doctor right away.
Even if you feel better, continue taking or using acyclovir until the prescription is finished. You run the risk of not fully treating your infection or making it harder to treat if you stop taking acyclovir too soon or skip doses. One dose of the delayed-release buccal tablet is administered.
Other uses for this medicine
Acyclovir is also occasionally used to treat oral hairy leukoplakia, dermatitis herpeticum (a skin infection brought on by the herpes virus), and to treat and prevent herpes infections of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth in people with HIV (condition that causes hairy white or gray-colored patches on the tongue or inside of the cheek).
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details if you believe this drug should be used for something else.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking acyclovir,
- If you have any allergies to acyclovir, valacyclovir (Valtrex), other drugs, milk proteins, or any of the ingredients in acyclovir products, let your doctor and pharmacist know right once. Request a list of the components from your pharmacist.
- Inform your doctor and pharmacist about any prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal items, and nutritional supplements you are now taking or intend to take. Be certain to bring up any of the following: Amphotericin B (Fungizone); aminoglycoside antibiotics such as gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), neomycin (Nes-RX, Neo-Fradin), paramomycin (Humatin), streptomycin, and tobramycin (Tobi, Nebcin); aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin); such as tacrolimus (Prograf), zidovudine (Retrovir, AZT), pentamidine (NebuPent), probenecid (Benemid), sulfonamides like sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim), and vancomycin. It’s important to inform your doctor about all of the medications you are taking, including ones that do not appear on this list, as many other drugs may also interact with acyclovir. Your doctor might need to adjust your medication doses or keep a close eye out for any negative side effects.
- Inform your doctor if you suspect that you may be dehydrated due to a recent sickness or activity, if you currently have or have ever had immune system issues, kidney disease, HIV infection, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- If you are breastfeeding a child or intend to become pregnant, let your doctor know. Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking acyclovir.
- If you are using acyclovir to treat genital herpes, you should be aware that even if you don’t have blisters or other symptoms and perhaps even if you are taking acyclovir, genital herpes can still be transmitted through sexual contact. Ask your doctor whether your partner (or partners) should receive treatment and how to prevent the spread of genital herpes.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
While using or taking acyclovir, make sure to stay hydrated.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
As soon as you remember, take the missing dose, then space out the remaining doses for the day. If the next dose is soon due, skip the missed one and carry on with your regular dosing plan. To make up for a missing dose, do not take a second one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Side effects are possible with acyclovir. If any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away, let your doctor know right once:
- Uneasy stomach
- Particularly in the joints
- Hair fall
- Alterations to vision
Some adverse effects can be very harmful. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Blisters or rashes
- Breathing or swallowing challenges
- Swelling of the lower legs, hands, feet, ankles, or face, neck, tongue, lips, eyes, or mouth
- Rapid heart rate
- Light skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Fever, chills, sore throat, cough, and other infection-related symptoms
- Abnormal bleeding or bruising
- Urine with blood in it
- Stomach cramps or agony
- Bloody stools
- Less urinations
- Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing sounds and voices that do not exist)
- Aggressive attitude
- Speaking is challenging
- Arms or legs tingling, burning, or going numb
- Temporary immobility of certain bodily components
- Shaking of a body part that you are unable to control
- Consciousness loss
Other negative effects of acyclovir are possible. If you experience any odd issues while taking or using this medicine, contact your doctor right away.
You or your doctor can submit a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting programme online or by phone if you have a serious side event (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication tightly closed in the original container and out of the reach of children. Store it away from excessive heat and moisture at room temperature (not in the bathroom).
As many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and are simple for young children to open, it is crucial to keep all medications out of sight and out of reach of children. Always lock safety caps and promptly stash medication up and away from young children where it is out of their sight and reach to prevent poisoning. http://www.upandaway.org
Unused prescriptions must be disposed of carefully to prevent pets, kids, and other people from ingesting them. You should not, however, dispose of this medication in the toilet. Instead, utilising a medicine take-back programme is the easiest approach to get rid of your medication. To find out about take-back programmes in your area, speak with your pharmacist or the garbage/recycling department in your city. If you do not have access to a take-back programme, see the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website at http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p for additional information.
In case of emergency/overdose
Call the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the event of an overdose. Additionally, information can be found online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. Call 911 right once if the person has collapsed, experienced a seizure, is having difficulty breathing, or cannot be roused.
Overdose signs could include the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Consciousness loss
- Hands, foot, ankles, or lower legs swelling
- Lless urinations
What other information should I know?
Keep all of your appointments with your physician and the lab. To monitor how you are responding to acyclovir, your doctor may request specific lab tests.
Do not share your medication with anybody else. Any queries you may have regarding medication refills should be directed to your pharmacist.
You should keep a written record of every medication you take, including any over-the-counter (OTC) items, prescription drugs, and dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals. This list should be brought with you whenever you see a doctor or are admitted to the hospital. You should always have this information with you in case of emergencies.
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