Thursday, November 4, 2010

Living With Oral Herpes: Triggers and Treatments

Living with Oral Herpes: Triggers and Treatments

Today the herpes virus is extremely widespread among adults, yet those living with it know how drastically it can interfere with day-to-day life. There is the pain, itchiness, and stinging of outbreaks, not to mention the embarrassment of a cold sore. Even between outbreaks, there is the daily fear that another may be coming soon, the constant paranoia that any small blemish or pain may be the beginning of a blister or cold sore.

Because there is no cure for herpes, the battle may feel hopeless. However, knowing your triggers and being aware of treatment options can make living with cold sores manageable. Here I discuss a variety of cold sore triggers, as well as treatments to prevent or shorten outbreaks.

While cold sores occasionally appear for no apparent reason, most individuals can identify specific triggers that commonly lead to an outbreak. Many of these can be linked to the immune system; physical or emotional stresses on the immune system can weaken your body’s defenses against the herpes virus, resulting in an outbreak. In addition, physical stresses on the lip area can result in cold sores. Below are discussed a few common triggers.

Illness or Exposure to Illness
If your body is fighting a cold or flu, your immune system is busy combating the illness and has fewer resources available for holding the herpes virus in check. Even being around others who are ill can increase your risk of a cold sore because your immune system may be exposed to the viruses or bacteria from those individuals. Your body may successfully fight off the cold or flu, yet be in a weakened state that makes you susceptible to a herpes outbreak.

Chapped lips and UV exposure
Any unusual stress to the lips can result in a herpes outbreak. Common triggers here are very dry or cracked lips, or extended exposure to sun or UV radiation. Keep your lips well moisturized, especially in the winter or in any cold or dry location, and always wear UV-protection chapstick when you go out in the sun.

Spicy or Acidic foods
Spicy foods, peppers, vinegar, or citrus are all common causes of cold sore outbreaks. If you have gotten cold sores after eating from any of these categories, keep track of your consumption and make sure you are not exposing your mouth to excess stresses from the foods you consume.

From unhappiness to fatigue, any kind of emotional or physical stress can weaken your system, making you vulnerable to the herpes virus. Be sure to take good care of your health during times of stress or change in your life. Things like depression, family drama, job changes or promotions, moving locations, new exercise routines, or changes in diet are all major triggers.

Unfortunately, there is currently neither vaccination nor cure for the herpes virus. However, there are numerous effective ways to mitigate the symptoms. With some basic knowledge and the right tools, it’s possible to reduce the frequency and duration of outbreaks so they need not interfere with daily life.

Herpes and the Immune System
While a strong immune system will not prevent you from getting infected with the herpes virus, it has a direct effect on the number, severity, and duration of outbreaks. As long as your immune system is going strong, the likelihood of getting an outbreak is small. However, there are numerous factors that can weaken your immune system, giving the virus an opportunity to break though your defenses and resulting in much-dreaded outbreaks. Some factors, such as job or family stress, weather changes, or exposure to other viruses, are out of your control. However, lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and vitamins and supplements, are completely in your control. Keeping in good physical condition, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and taking vitamins that support your immune system can go a long way towards keeping your herpes in remission. When choosing a vitamin or supplement, look for one with numerous immune-supporting ingredients, including Vitamins C & D, and Echinacea.

Anti-viral medications are scientifically shown to be the most effective long-term treatment for herpes. While there is currently no way to remove the virus from the body altogether, these medications can keep it dormant. Anti-virals can be applied topically or taken in pill or supplement form. Applied topically, they are shown to shorten outbreaks of both oral and genital herpes. Taken daily in pill or supplement form, anti-virals can actually suppress the virus, decreasing the frequency of outbreaks. There are numerous prescription anti-virals on the market with this target for those who have severe or debilitating outbreaks. For individuals who prefer all-natural remedies, several mushroom varieties are proven to be powerful anti-virals as well, specifically maitaki, shitake and reishi mushrooms. Aloe vera has also been cited as a simple and cheap topical anti-viral.

Over-the-Counter Balms
There are multiple brands of the over-the-counter chapsticks and balms that can be found in the aisles of your local pharmacy. These contain some combination of topical anti-viral, anesthetic, and sterilizing agent. Their primary purpose is often to relieve the pain and irritation of a cold sore. If you are interested in a product that actually shortens the time of outbreak, be sure to check for an anti-viral or herpes-fighting ingredient, such as Lysine or Docosanol.

Prevasure Supplement & Balm
Prevasure is a herpes treatment supplement and balm combination with both immune-supporting and anti-viral properties. During a cold sore, anti-viral ingredients in both the chapstick and supplement reduce the intensity of the outbreak while speeding up the healing process. In addition, immune-supporting vitamins and herbs bolster your immune system to fight the virus on a daily basis. Taken regularly, this combination of immune support and virus-fighting ingredients can actually reduce the occurrence of outbreaks. Using a product program such as Prevasure is a natural yet effective way to deal with living with herpes.

Whatever approach you choose to take, know that herpes does not have to interfere with your life. There are many ways to deal with the virus that considerably mitigate your symptoms and make living with herpes completely manageable!