How to Live With a Herpes Infection?
With the word “herpes” an uneasy feeling arises in one’s mind. We often tend to ridicule the word and the sufferer of the disease, instead of thinking seriously about it, and perhaps due to this viewpoint, there is a good deal of misconceptions exist about herpes and the difference between herpes infection and other common sexually transmitted infections.
Genital and Oral Herpes – What’s the Difference?
Oral herpes is talked about very comfortably and is referred to as “cold sores”, while genital herpes, being genital and sex-related, is considered to be a taboo in the society. In fact, both of them are caused by similar viruses and can be seen in or around mouth, anus and/or genitals based on where the individual is infected.
A difference between oral herpes and genital herpes is the former is often caused by herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), while the latter is mostly caused by HSV-2, i.e. herpes simplex virus-2. However, both these viruses have the capability to cause outbreaks in both the areas, if someone has caught infection in that area. A partner suffering from oral herpes can transmit HSV-1 to the other’s genitals during oral sex, so that the other develops genital herpes symptoms, and vice versa. More frequently, neither of them develops any symptoms or they may mistake the symptoms with something else. In many cases, a person having both the viruses doesn’t develop any symptom and so, never know that they have them.
Living with a Herpes Infection
Talk or Not to Talk to a New Partner: Many single individuals with genital herpes get nervous when it comes to talking about their condition to a new partner. Some are worried that they will mislead their partner by not being honest, while some others worry that they will be rejected when their partner will come to know about the infection, and hence, avoid talking on the topic for some time. Ironically, those having oral herpes can talk freely about their condition though there is not much difference between the two except the site of infection.
Many prefer to talk about genital herpes with their partner when both of them are ready to start a sexual relationship or even before that, if they feel more comfortable. However, in most cases, there is no obvious reason to disclose about your genital herpes or, for that matter, any such sensitive topic, too early in a relationship, even before getting a chance to know each other better and develop trust, and it may remain a moot point if the association doesn’t develop further.
When you decide to disclose the condition, keep the talk relatively brief, offer clear answers to any questions and tell that you wish to provide more info or find out more together with her/him. Reassure her/him that the chances of passing the disease to her/him can be reduced with easy ways, like medicines, self-discipline during outbreaks and safer sex practices.
It is also important for the sufferers to take care of themselves, by ensuring that your new partner is reliable and you feel comfortable and safe with her/him before sharing your condition with her/him.
Oral Sex: It’s a common misconception that avoiding intercourse is a great way to be safe from genital herpes. However, oral sex too can infect a person with oral herpes, genital herpes, or both.
Two different viruses cause herpes which work on a person’s skin. Not everyone having genital or oral herpes knows when they are caught with it. The virus may be spreading also in case of no apparent lesions are noticed – the process is called shedding. So, a person having oral herpes (cold sores) if performs oral sex may pass on the virus to the partner. Similarly, individuals with genital herpes may pass on her/his virus to the partner performing oral sex with them.
Using dental dams and condoms can minimize the chances of transmission of herpes, though not totally eliminate them. But medication, self-control during outbreaks and a healthy lifestyle help one’s immune system to fight with the virus. Keep in mind that majority of sufferers never know that they have herpes because they never develop a significant outbreak.
Management: Though herpes is incurable, it is manageable. Over-the-counter or prescribed treatments are available to diminish the severity and quicken the healing of outbreak. Another kind of treatment is called daily suppressive therapy; in this, a pill is taken to lessen the number of outbreaks, and also potentially lessening the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner. However the chances of transmission are not totally eliminated and protection is important.
An individual infected with herpes virus can also limit her/his outbreak by regular exercising, proper changes in diet and reducing stress. It’s also important to note that though they may look free from symptoms, they have the ability to pass on the virus.
Knowing Symptoms: Herpes symptoms if seen are often in form of bumps, rashes or sores – one or many – on mouth or genitals, and can develop into blisters. Sometimes flu-like symptoms and fever may also occur. But the skin symptoms can be mistaken for a skin irritation. Therefore you should immediately consult your healthcare provider. The frequency of symptoms also varies significantly and in some there are even no symptoms. Therefore safer sex is always advisable.
Treating Cold Sores: Cold sores or oral herpes can be effectively treated with proper nutrition and it is the safest way to treat the disease. It has been proved by many studies done in the past decades that the ratio of lysine to arginine in our diet plays an important role in the outbreak of cold sores. These two are amino acids required everyday by our body. The herpes virus requires arginine to multiply at a faster speed. On the other hand, lysine is believed to interfere with the arginine absorption in the intestine. A few studies have revealed that lysine reduces the duration or severity of an outbreak. However, it should be remembered that some other studies have noted serious side effects of lysine when taken in large doses. Therefore if you are planning to take large doses of lysine for cold sores treatment, consult your doctor first and let her/him decide the right dosage. The best way is to have lysine diet containing dairy products like fat-free yogurt and cheddar cheese, lean meat, eggs, fish, soy products and yeast in proper amount, after discussing with your doctor. This is the natural intake of lysine and so, is safe.