What is herpes simplex?
Herpes is a term that is very loosely used in day-to-day conversation and should actually be spoken of with more specificity. The disease Herpes can be herpes simplex caused by the herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 that are known to produce cold sores and genital herpes, and herpes shingles caused by the varicella-zoster virus that is known to produce chicken pox first and then remain dormant in the body to produce vesicular eruptions along the course of certain nerves of the body.
What causes herpes simplex and which are the other herpes viruses?
Herpes simplex viruses (HSV 1&2) or the Human herpes virus (HHV) 1 & 2 are known to produce herpes simplex lesions.
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) or HHV3 is known to cause chicken pox and herpes shingles.
Epstein-Barr virus (EB) or HHV4 is responsible for infectious mononucleosis.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) or HHV5 creates a picture very similar to that of infectious mononucleosis but with more organopathies.
HHV-6 causes roseola, an exanthematous infection in infants.
HHVs 7& 8 have been implicated in the development of Kaposi's sarcoma in patients who are HIV positive.
How is herpes simplex transmitted? What about the other herpes viruses?
The herpes simplex viruses are transmitted sexually and through direct contact with the lesions. The Epstein barr virus is spread through saliva by kissing, and the varicella-zoster virus is air borne and spread by droplet infection when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
Can other forms of sexual activity such as oral and anal sex also transmit the virus?
Yes. Oral sex and anal sex also involve direct contact between mucosal surfaces. Any sexual transmitted disease can be transmitted through one of these activities.
Can herpes simplex infections be life threatening?
In a majority of the people, the infections are never life threatening. The herpes simplex viruses and the varicella-zoster virus are known to produce recurrent outbreaks whenever the immunity drops. However, rarely in those cases where the immunity is very low, the diseases may affect vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys and turn fatal. It is therefore very important that the affected patients take good care of them selves when it comes to their diet and regimen.
What are the effects of herpes simplex on pregnancy?
There is no major effect of herpes simplex on pregnancy per se but if the mother has genital outbreaks at around the time of delivery, it calls for a Caesarian section delivery in order to prevent the spread of the infection from the mother to the baby.
What is the effect of herpes on breastfeeding?
Again, there is no direct impact as such on the infant if the mother is infected with the virus and has no outbreaks. However, if she does have outbreaks, she should avoid direct contact between her lesions and her child. If the outbreaks are on the nipples, then breastfeeding should be avoided totally or only the unaffected breast should be used.
Can herpes simplex lead to cancer?
Research studies have shown that there seems to be a link between the herpes infections, the Human papilloma virus (HPV), and cancers. However, it is not necessary that these infections always tend to produce cancers in all the people infected with the viruses. All cancers are multifactorial in origin and hence many other causes could be implicated in their development.
What sort of therapies should be sought?
Therapies which are known to boost the immunity so as to combat the viruses should be tried out as the human body has the capacity to fight most of the viruses, provided its immunity is good enough. Nutritious food, regular exercise, mental relaxation through meditative techniques, and other such auxiliary and ancillary modes of treatment definitely help to restore good health sooner.
Can herpes simplex be cured?
Although modern medicine says that once the virus is in the body, it never goes and only remains in a state of dormancy, some alternative therapies like homeopathy, naturopathy, ayurveda, and tibetan medicine, are known to act on the body so as to boost its immunity to try to eliminate the virus. They have had favourable results in the sense that the outbreaks seem to stop. Only time can tell if the treated patients stop getting outbreaks totally or get it after longer quiescent periods. However, it is a fact that the commonly used blood tests are antibody dependent and these antibodies are known to remain in the blood for indefinite periods of time, may be, even after the virus is eliminated. More sophisticated tests could be utilized to check if the viruses are really eliminated by such alternative therapies.
Alternative non-medicinal healing methods like Reiki, Yoga, Accupressure, Accupuncture, Sintergetica healing, and many such techniques along with the right diet and regimen can help to a very great extent and potentiate the therapeutic powers of any medicine. I believe that all diseases can be cured but not all people can be cured because every disease is karmic in nature and every suffering is predestined. We doctors can only treat, whereas, it is HE, the ALMIGHTY who cures.