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Shingles is a disorder that can cause a lot of discomfort. Thankfully, there are some treatments that may be able to help.

Doctors, for example, may prescribe the medication valaciclovir (Valtrex) when you have shingles to help reduce the duration of your symptoms. Valtrex is an antiviral medication that can help stop the shingles virus from replicating.

The symptoms of shingles can last anywhere between 3 and 5 weeks. Valtrex doesn’t cure shingles, but it helps to keep the virus from multiplying. Here’s what you should know about how to reduce the duration of your symptoms last by taking Valtrex.

Shingles tend to follow a predictable pattern in terms of symptoms. The earlier you recognize the shingles by their pattern, the earlier you can seek treatment that may include Valtrex.

Most research regarding the effectiveness of Valtrex for shingles is when you start taking it within 72 hours after you first notice symptoms. Even if you don’t have immediately visible shingles lesions, your doctor can still perform testing to determine if you may have shingles.

If you wait too long, the virus have already replicated too much for the medication to be effective.

In a review of studies on the effectiveness of antiviral medications including Valtrex, participants reported less pain from shingles after taking Valtrex compared to the antiviral medication acyclovir.

The researchers did not find any differences among the medications compared in terms of fewer lesions, crusting over, or adverse events.

The medication can cause some side effects. The most commonly known effects include:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting

These side effects are usually mild. But there are some severe side effects that Valtrex can cause in some people. These include issues with kidney and nervous system function.

Severe side effects are more likely to occur in the elderly and those with pre-existing kidney disease. A doctor should discuss these and other possible side effects with you before prescribing Valtrex.

If you get shingles, starting Valtrex treatment as soon as possible may help to reduce the amount of days you have shingles symptoms. It could also help lessen shingles-related pain.

Talk to a doctor if you suspect you have shingles.