According to a recent report by the World Heath Organization, around 2/3rds of the population under 50 are believed to be carrying the herpes virus. Now, the scariest part about the virus is that it may not even exhibit any symptoms! So, you may not even see sores or bumps. To add to that, this disease is not even curable – though you could prevent and treat it.
What Is Herpes?
There are two types of herpes viruses:
HSV 1 or Oral Herpes
The first one is a tamer with its symptoms just being cold sores on the lips or mouth. I know they can be really painful and ugly, but they don’t really last for too long. Cold sores can be transmitted through mouth-to-mouth contact or oral sex. Even if you’re just sharing lip balm with someone infected with cold sores, you may be at risk.
HSV 2 or Genital Herpes
This type is usually transmitted through sex. According to the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control, around 400 million people are affected by herpes, among which about 85 percent never exhibited any symptoms. If any symptoms experienced with the second types, they are usually itching, genital burning and flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any vaccines invented to prevent the disease, although researchers are working on it.
Testing For Herpes
Now, when you don’t have any symptoms, it’s very difficult to diagnose herpes. The CDC recommends getting a test done in case you partner shows any symptoms or if you’re having multiple sexual relationships. Some common tests you can opt for are:
According to the American Sexual Health Association, blood tests can help track IGg antibodies – your body’s immune response to fight the disease. Wait for about 10 to 12 weeks after your last sexual encounter, that you think may have given birth to the virus. In case you get a routine STD check, ensure to consult your doctor for a specific herpes exam, as they may not be included in your regular checks.
Get your doctor to swab your lesion within 2 days of noticing a sore. These may be less accurate during recurrent outbreaks.
Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT) is a more explicit method of testing as compared to viral cultures. Get a consultation and figure out which test works best for you.
Prevent Spreading Or Receiving The Virus
Regardless of whether you or your partner are affected by the virus, practice safe sex by using a condom at all times. Also, avoid any sexual contact with anyone who has an open sore.
Avoid Common Triggers
Once you’re affected, the virus stays within your nerve cells till a trigger forces it out. If you avoid the triggers, there’s a good chance you can avoid the symptoms. Common trigger are:
Sunlight: The American Journal of Sports Medicine links oral herpes outbreaks to sun exposure, especially ultraviolet-B rays. Whenever you’re going to be out on the screen, ensure you have a sunscreen out with an SPF 30.
Stress: When you’re under stress, your cortisol levels are at its peak weakening the immune system. A weak immune system can make you more susceptible to herpes.
Dental Treatment: According to experts at the Nova South, eastern University, an injection in the mouth can trigger the reactivation of the virus.
Treat The Symptoms
As soon as you notice a symptom, ensure to get a check up. Your doctors might prescribe anti-viral drugs. If you get on the treatment early, you can reduce the healing time.