Wednesday, October 5, 2022

How Does Herpes Affect Your Health

Can Oral Herpes Cause A Sore Throat

Herpes (oral & genital) – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Oral herpes isnt the same as herpes esophagitis. Oral herpes is an extremely common condition thats usually caused by HSV-1, and it can be trasmitted through oral-to-oral contact or oral sex. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the symptoms of oral herpes can include:

  • A tingling, burning, or painful sensation that starts before any sores appear in the area
  • Painful, small blisters that appear in clusters and are filled with a clear fluid
  • The fluid will leak from the blisters, which will become sores and then scab over
  • The scabs will fall off and the sores will heal on their own within a few days

Although oral herpes sores typically appear in the outside of the mouth, under the nose, or on the chin, they can also affect the inside of the mouth. According to Cedars Sinai Hospital, sores can also appear on the gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks or lips, and in rare cases, a herpes outbreak can affect your throat.

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What Are The Different Types Of Herpes

There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.

Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.

Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes

Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.

Recurrences may be triggered by:

  • no apparent reason noted.

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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back

Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.

It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.

If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.

Triggers can include:

  • surgery on your genital area
  • a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer

No Ulcers Doesnt Equal No Herpes So Then What

How Long Does a Genital Herpes Outbreak Last?

If youve never had genital ulcers and as far as you know, have never been exposed, is it worth getting tested? Thats a controversial point and in fact, the widely followed official guidelines discourage screening.

Why? Many reasons: Lets say a person has a blood test that comes back positive for HSV-2. This means that the patient may have been exposed to HSV-2 at some point in their lives, somehow, somewhere. Research tells us that these folks may be periodically shedding virus particles in their genital fluids. These patients would then be diagnosed with genital herpes, encouraged to share their status with future partners, and offered daily antiviral medication to prevent possibly spreading the virus.

All of this can be a tough pill to swallow, so to speak. There is significant social stigma and shame associated with herpes. In addition, there are occasionally false-positive tests. Labeling someone with the diagnosis can be devastating to their future relationships, and asking someone to take a pill for a condition they may or may not have and may or may not spread seems unreasonable.

However, not all experts agree with the official guidelines. Except for the uncommon case of a false positive blood test for HSV-2, a seropositive test means one of three things:

  • The person has had herpes with symptoms.
  • The person has had herpes with symptoms but didnt realize the cause.
  • If you are not sure about getting tested, talk with your doctor.

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    What Is Eye Herpes

    Eye herpes, also known as ocular herpes, is a potentially serious infection of the eye caused by the herpes simplex virus , the same virus that causes cold sores around the lips and mouth.

    Eye herpes is typically contracted by touching a cold sore and then touching the eyes with contaminated fingers. Once contracted, the virus stays in the body for life.

    Many people with eye herpes are unaware that they have it because it can lie dormant in the nervous system for years without causing any symptoms. Its not unusual for HSV to reactivate months or even years after it was first contracted. Flare-ups can resolve after 2-3 weeks, though the infection can reappear, even after 10 years.

    Oftentimes, eye herpes is confused with other types of pink eye, such as bacterial or other viral eye infections.

    If you suffer with persistent red eyes, it is vital to contact an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and treat eye herpes with the appropriate medication.

    Increased Risk Of Other Stis

    Genital herpes can increase a persons risk of contracting and passing on other common STIs. Visible sores can cause small breaks in the skin, which makes it easier for certain viruses to affect the body. It’s important to note that the virus doesn’t need to be visible to spread – even when no sores are present, the virus is still active in the body.

    According to the World Health Organization , those living with human immunodeficiency virus who are not taking medication, or those with a compromised immune system, may experience more severe symptoms and frequent outbreaks or occurrences .

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    What Causes Herpes Eye Infections

    According to the NHS, the beginning of herpes in eye infections typically happens when a chronic herpes infection becomes reactivated and the virus spreads to the eyes. In many cases, the cause of an outbreak is unknown, but some the most common triggers for herpes outbreaks include:

    • Other illnesses
    • Mucus discharge
    • Crusty eyes, similar to allergies

    Eye herpes and styes can look similar. Additionally, you can experience symptoms of oral herpes and eye herpes simultaneously. For example, you may have cold sores around your mouth, and swollen eyelids or a fever blister under your eye at the same time. This can make it easier to diagnose eye herpes infections keep in mind that the best way to diagnose herpes is by taking a swab of an active lesion.

    Thanks to at-home STD tests, you can get tested for herpes and many other STDs from the privacy of your own home.

    Three drugs are approved to treat genital herpes:

    These medications are antiviral drugs called nucleoside analogues. The drugs are used initially to treat a first attack of herpes, and then afterward to either treat recurrent outbreaks or reduce frequency of recurrences .

    No drug can cure herpes simplex virus. The infection may recur after treatment has been stopped. Even during therapy, an infected person can still transmit the virus to another person. Drugs can, however, reduce the severity of symptoms, improve healing times, and prevent recurrences.

    How Is Genital Herpes Treated

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    Herpes has no cure. But antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks during the time you take the medicine. Also, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can lower your chance of spreading the infection to your partner.

    Your doctor will either give you antiviral medicine to take right after getting outbreak symptoms or to take regularly to try to stop outbreaks from happening. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

    During outbreaks, you can take the following steps to speed healing and prevent spreading herpes to other parts of your body or to other people:

    • Keep sores clean and dry.
    • Try not to touch the sores.
    • Wash your hands after any contact with the sores.
    • Avoid all sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed.

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    How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby

    Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11

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    What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic

    The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:

    • ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
    • use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing

    The test cannot:

    • be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
    • tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from

    Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.

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    Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic

    You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.

    Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.

    Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.

    They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.

    Complications Of Oral Herpes

    Herpes: Causes and Risk Factors

    Theres no current cure for oral herpes . The virus remains in your system once its transmitted.

    Blisters can disappear and reappear throughout your life. When you dont have visible symptoms, it means the virus is inactive, but you can still transmit it to others. Many people dont develop visible symptoms.

    For the most part, oral herpes is a mild infection. Sores usually clear up on their own without treatment.

    In rare cases, complications can occur. This is more likely to happen in people who have a weakened immune system, perhaps due to age or a chronic illness.

    Possible complications can include dehydration if drinking becomes painful due to oral blisters. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious problems. This certainly isnt likely to occur. Just make sure youre drinking enough, even if its uncomfortable.

    Another incredibly rare complication of oral herpes is encephalitis. This occurs when the viral infection travels to the brain and causes inflammation. Encephalitis isnt usually life-threatening. It may only cause mild flu-like symptoms.

    Minor complications of oral herpes include a skin infection if the virus comes in contact with broken skin. This can occur if you have a cut or eczema. It can sometimes be a medical emergency if cold sores cover widespread areas of skin.

    Children with oral herpes may develop herpes whitlow. If a child sucks their thumb, blisters can form around the finger.

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    How Does Herpes Affect Pregnancy

    A pregnant person usually experiences the same herpes symptoms as nonpregnant individuals.

    Around 75% of women with herpes will experience a flare-up during pregnancy, but there is no evidence that pregnancy triggers flare-ups.

    If a person has herpes for the first time while pregnant, the risks to an unborn fetus are higher than if they have caught herpes before being pregnant. Initial herpes infections are also usually more severe than recurrent infections.

    A doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, to treat herpes during pregnancy. These can cause side effects in some people.

    , including brain damage, eye issues, or even infant death.

    The risk of neonatal herpes is highest when a pregnant person contracts HSV in the third trimester of their pregnancy. The risk is also higher if a pregnant person has an outbreak around the time of childbirth. During natural childbirth, a baby can come into contact with the virus as they move through the cervix and vaginal canal.

    The risk of neonatal herpes is lower if a person develops herpes before or at the beginning of pregnancy. The body will have enough time to produce protective antibodies, which the pregnant individual will pass on to the child through the placenta.

    How Does Genital Herpes Spread

    Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:

    • Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
    • Use a condom every time you have sex.
    • Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
    • Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.

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    How Is It Spread

    The herpes virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the herpes virus:

    • Most often, from herpes sores or blisters
    • Less often, from normal looking skin where the virusfirst entered the body
    • The herpes virus enters the body through the:
      • Lining of the mouth
      • Regular skin that has small cracks or cuts

    People with a weak immune system can get a herpesinfection more easily. A weak immune system is causedby some diseases and by somemedicines used to treat serious diseases.

    People who don’t know they have herpes can still spread the virus to others.

    How Herpes Is Treated

    Understanding Genital Herpes

    There is no cure for herpes.

    • The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
    • Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
    • If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
    • The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
    • Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
    • It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.

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    How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnant Women

    While genital herpes rarely causes serious health problems in healthy men and women, HSV-2 can be dangerous for pregnant women and the neonate, particularly during the last trimester of pregnancy. The virus may cause premature labor and babies can contract the virus in the womb or when passing through the birth canal.

    Suppressive Therapy For Recurrences

    To suppress outbreaks, treatment requires taking pills daily on a long-term basis. Acyclovir and famciclovir are taken twice a day for suppression. Valacyclovir is taken once a day. The doses for these antiviral drugs are reduced in people with impaired renal function.

    Suppressive treatment can reduce the frequency of outbreak recurrences by 70% to 80%. It is generally recommended for people who have frequent recurrences . Because herpes recurrences often diminish over time, you should discuss annually with your provider whether you should stay with drug therapy or discontinue it.

    There is some evidence that valacyclovir may help prevent herpes transmission, particularly in situations where one heterosexual partner has HSV-2 and the other partner does not. However, this drug does not completely prevent transmission. While taking any suppressive therapy for genital herpes, it is still important to regularly use latex condoms and to avoid any sexual activity during recurrences.

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    When To Call The Doctor

    Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:

    • Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
    • Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
    • Sores are near the eyes.
    • You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.

    What’s Involved In Herpes Testing

    Treatment for Itching Caused by Herpes

    If there are blisters or sores, a healthcare provider may gently swab the area to take a fluid sample and test it. If there are no sores, but you are concerned you may have been exposed, a blood test may done. Herpes tests are not normally recommended unless you have symptoms.

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    Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby

    If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.

    If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.

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