Herpes is a generic name given to viral diseases caused by herpes simplex virus and the most common types are oral herpes and genital herpes. The former is characterized by blisters on the lips and facial area, while the latter manifests in itchy sores on genital areas which may be painful. This disease is however less potent and if the individual does not suffer from any other immune suppressing infections, they can live with herpes for a lifetime without any frightening concerns. Herpes is one of the oldest viral diseases whose treatment is still unknown and a majority of the world population suffers this condition. Due to its weak potency, herpes may be considered a skin condition rather than a fatal STD.
Symptoms of Herpes Infection
Detecting symptoms at early stages is very unlikely and may require a laboratory test. Mature herpes will however show signs, although these symptoms can also be caused by other infections other than herpes. They include blisters on the upper and lower lips and on the face for oral herpes. These blisters will resemble fever or cold sores and usually last 2 to 21 days before drying and disappearing. Recurrent appearance may take place from time to time. Genital herpes, which is mostly feared, will cause rushes and sores on the genitals and surrounding area. These sores are usually very itchy and repeated scratching increases inflammation on the skin and causes pain. Other symptoms may infect the hands and severe infections include damages to the eye or invasion of the nervous system and brain damage. However, most people are asymptomatic and no physical sign is likely to be noticed. The individual can live with herpes virus for a lifetime without any major damage if they maintain healthy lifestyles. Symptoms are more common in people with suppressed immunes including transplant recipients, newborns and HIV infected persons. The latter are more prone to escalated conditions of this disease.
Herpes is classified as a STD (sexually transmitted disease) and will be spread to the other during unprotected intercourse. The stigma associated with STDs is accredited to the fear many people express for herpes even though this disease merely equals an unpleasant skin condition. It is common and many others live with herpes. There however exist other means of transmission since it involves bodily fluids. Direct contact with the body fluids or lesion of an infected person may result in infection. Skin-to-skin transmissions have also been identified although this mostly takes place during asymptomatic shedding. Once the virus enters the body, it multiplies producing numerous particles in the nerve cell. These new viruses are carried along the neuron axon to nerve terminals found in the skin. They are then disposed which results in the skin symptoms such as blisters, rushes and itchiness on the skin. The body often reacts to this attack by producing antibodies of the specific virus which eliminates possibilities of infection in other areas. This also prevents repeated infections of the same virus type. The frequency of activity will often reduce although recurrent symptoms may feature from time to time. This is mostly triggered by immune suppressing drugs.
Professional doctors who major in STDs and immune responses have studied the herpes virus for a long time. Their opinion is that herpes is one of the lowest ranked STD and those infected should not have any worries of major damages or reduced abilities. Symptoms can be reduced and suppressed almost to elimination with no related effects on the body. H. Hunter (MD), a clinical medicine professor (University of Washington) and a recognized STD expert shares his concerns on the herpes topic. He does not understand why many people fear herpes when a significant percentage of the population is living comfortably with the infection, and possibly unaware of it. He compares the herpes disease to fever and cold which affect many people, but no one reacts as emotional as with herpes. Those who already have the virus can not suffer recurrent outbreaks says Jeanne Marrazzo (MD), STD specialist (University of Washington). He further describes that most people fear recurrent symptoms which used to be a distress. Current developments however offer new solutions to ensure the virus is not symptomatic and reduces the damages caused.
Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment
Herpes can be diagnosed through laboratory tests done on the bodily fluids, mostly blood. There is no form of vaccination or cure available for this disease. One can only reduce the chances of contracting it by using barrier protections such as condoms during intercourse. There is also a long range of antiviral drugs that are used to reduce the intensity of symptoms and their duration as well as the frequency of subsequent outbreaks. Favmir is one example of approved one-day treatment for herpes introduced in July 2006. Using anti-herpes drugs reduce the chances for transmission. This combined with condoms will significantly limit the chances of spreading the virus to others since it reduces transmissions through parts where condoms do not cover. Other forms of prevention include examining your partner’s genital area to identify existence of any sign. Most transmissions occur in asymptomatic outbreaks and protection barriers are still highly recommended as with any other STD prevention. Traditional methods of reducing symptoms included taking sitz baths. Although this is still available, most doctors recommend antiviral and anti-herpes drugs.
Herpes has existed for ages and many people live with the virus without any fatal damages. Contracting this disease should therefore evoke no worries or tensions as managing herpes is quite easy. Once the symptoms and signs have been identified, it is important to seek prompt advice from professional STD specialists on the type of medication needed. Although there is no available treatment, herpes symptoms can be reduced, same as its effects on the body systems. Healthy living should also be practiced to ensure the immune system remains optimum. Precautions such as using protection during intercourse and taking anti-herpes drugs will also ensure other classifications of the virus are not contracted. If all these are practiced, infected persons can live naturally to old age without experiencing the severity that includes brain damage as this is often a result of negligence. Herpes in incurable but not fatal if well managed.
“Why Herpes Isn’t as Bad as You May Think (and a Lot More Common)” Health Magazine, n.d. 9 Jun. 2014