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Why is this medication prescribed?
Valacyclovir is used to treat herpes zoster (shingles) and genital herpes. It does not cure herpes infections but decreases pain and itching, helps sores to heal, and prevents new ones from forming.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Valacyclovir comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken every 8 hours (three times a day) for 7 days to treat shingles. To treat genital herpes it is usually taken twice a day for 5 days. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take valacyclovir exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Use this medication as soon as possible after symptoms appear.
Continue to take valacyclovir even if you feel well. Do not stop taking valacyclovir without talking to your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking valacyclovir,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir, or any other drugs.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially cimetidine (Tagamet), probenecid (Benemid), and vitamins.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney or liver disease, problems with your immune system, human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking valacyclovir, call your doctor.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, and take any remaining doses for that day at evenly spaced intervals. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Valacyclovir may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- Upset stomach
- Diarrhea or loose stools
If you experience any of the following side effects, call your doctor immediately:
- Yellowness of the skin or eyes
- Blood in the urine
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to valacyclovir.
Do not have sexual intercourse when you can see the genital herpes lesions. However, genital herpes can be spread even when there are no symptoms.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the valacyclovir, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.