Acyclovir is a pharmaceutical used to treat viral infections. A synthetic drug developed in 1974, Acyclovir belongs to a class of drugs called acyclic purine nucleoside analogue. Acyclovir, sometimes spelled Aciclovir, was created specifically as an antiviral therapy for herpes simplex virus and herpes zoster virus otherwise known as shingles. It may also be used to treat Bell’s Palsy and Epstein-Barr virus. Some of the trade names for Acyclovir are Zovirax, Cyclovir, Herpex, Acivirax and Zovir.
Who Invented Acyclovir and How Does It Work
Gertrude B. Elion invented Acyclovir. This new antiviral was considered especially effective. It’s not only selective in attacking the viral agents; it is also non-toxic. Considered an advancement in antiviral therapeutics, Elion received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine partially due to this discovery.
A viral infection is systemic; it impacts the entire body. Antiviral medications work by inhibiting the DNA or RNAsynthesis. Acyclovir prevents DNA replication, the method by which viruses replicate. It does not cure the infection, but treats the symptoms of infections, such as blisters from herpes.
Side Effects of Acyclovir
Adverse effects may occur with the use of Acyclovir. Headache, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are the most common side effects. Acyclovir can be administered in a variety of ways; it is available as a capsule, tablet, cream, injection or ointment. The recommended dosage for Acyclovir is 800mg every four hours.
Antimicrobials are used to prevent microorganism growth. Bacteria, fungi and protozoans are types of microbes that cause infection. Antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics are used to eliminate infections. Antiparasitics kill the microbes such as protozoa without injuring the animal or human host.
A protozoal infection can be mistaken for a viral infection; they are both body infections and may impact similar systems. In a protozoal infection, the gastrointestinal system is usually the area affected. Symptoms of a protozoal infection may include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and bloating. Fever and tachycardia can also occur. Misdiagnosis is possible as there can be other causes of these symptoms.
Protozoan organisms are unicellular and microscopic in size. They are usually parasitic and can cause disease in human beings. The protozoan organisms which cause infection can be classified under amoebozoa, excavaram and chromaveolata groups. Giardia, Toxoplasmosis and Amoebic Dysentery are all examples of protozoan infections. Malaria, a well-known and very dangerous protozoal infection, is transmitted through mosquito bites.
Protozoa, found in soil and water, can infect animals as well as humans. Transmission may occur through insect bites, contaminated water or food and sexual contact. Protozoal infections can impact the skin as well as the bowel.
People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infection. HIV and cancer are examples of diseases that may lower a person’s immunity to harmful organisms in the environment. In these cases, an infection caused by a protozoan organism is more likely to occur. Those with compromised immune systems are also more likely to contract a virus or to experience the reemergence of a latent virus.
A person is considered at risk for a protozoal infection if he or she has a compromised immune system from diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer and kidney disease. Patients undergoing chemotherapy or recent organ transplant recipients are also vulnerable to protozoan organisms.
While patients with compromised immune systems from viruses are more vulnerable to parasitic infection, Acyclovir can only treat viral infections, not microbes or parasites. Acyclovir is an antiviral medication, where as protozoan organisms cause protozoal infections. Since antiviral medications cannot impact protozoal replication, Acyclovir would be ineffective against protozoal infection.
List of Side Effects of Acyclovir
Acyclovir may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
pain, especially in the joints
changes in vision
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
rash or blisters
difficulty breathing or swallowing
swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
fever, sore throat, chills, cough, and other signs of infection
unusual bruising or bleeding
blood in the urine
stomach pain or cramps
hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
numbness, burning, or tingling in the arms or legs
temporary inability to move parts of your body
shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control
loss of consciousness