It’s estimated that a little over 57% of the US has HSV-1, or oral herpes (cold sores), and about 16% have HSV-2, or genital herpes. Both HSV-1 & 2 can infect both the mouth and genitals, as well as (rarely) other locations on the bodyâ€”the herpes virus is spread through skin to skin contact.
Unfortunately, people rarely start a conversation about herpes. In the 70s and 80s, in order to sell antiviral drugs, a campaign was launched that stigmatized herpes, especially genital herpes. Although not worth the stress it causes many, herpes blisters can be painful, and many would prefer to prevent the outbreaks that come with the virus.
Symptoms of Herpes:
An infection, people who’ve acquired herpes may experience flu like symptoms (fever, fatigue, headache). The worst, and most famous symptom of herpes are the blisters: skin eruptions that occur during a herpes outbreak that are very contagious.
Most people experience the worst symptoms of herpes during their primary (first) outbreak, when the immune system has not had a chance to create antibodies yet. The primary outbreak is also more contagious: pregnant women who contract herpes during pregnancy are more likely to transmit the virus than those with only recurrent herpes.
Symptoms of herpes are ongoing; the virus nests in the nervous system, inhabiting cells and preventing the immune system from bringing the cells to their natural deaths. When stress or another trigger occurs, symptoms of herpes come back, and transmission of the virus to other people becomes more likely. During outbreaks, herpes may cause a lower blood cell count.
Complication of Symptoms of Herpes
Babies who contract herpes from their mothers have only a 40% survival rateâ€”and 75% to 90% of those mothers were previously undiagnosed with herpes (being asymptomatic, they didn’t show symptoms of herpes). Prenatal care and routine STD screening is important, many STDs, including herpes, are spread through skin to skin contact, and should not be thought of as something that only affect “high-risk” individuals.
People who have genetic markers for Alzheimer’s and HSV-1 (oral herpes) seem to be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Antivirals, as well as Alzheimer prevention (exercising the brain and mind) may help mitigate the increased risk.
The (Mixed) News About Herpes
For the last few decades, herpes transmission rates have been declining. That means more people are getting tested and practicing safe sex, as well as educating themselves about herpes and other communicable diseases.
But of people with HSV-2 (genital herpes), less than 20% know they’re infected! That’s because many people remain asymptomatic, meaning they do not have the characteristic symptoms of herpes: herpes blisters. Instead, they may experience what they think are symptoms of a yeast infection or other similar disease.
Treat Symptoms Of Herpes
There are two strategies to preventing outbreaks. The first is avoid triggers, which can include stress. and to strengthen the immune system (when triggers like stress weaken it, herpes outbreaks happen).
The second strategy can include medications prescribed by your doctor, which usually include antivirals. Antivirals have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of herpes outbreaks.
If you’re looking to treat symptoms of herpes naturally, some think that aloe vera or bee products spread on blister prone skin may reduce outbreaks, while others seek out supplements that contain echinacea or zinc (possibly immune boosting), l-lysine, or eleuthero (both neuro supportive). Although safe, none of these treatments have been proven to treat or prevent herpes by rigorous tests.
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