Pregnancy is a time of joy and excitement. For most women, it is the happiest period of their lives. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges as expectant mothers have to deal with various health issues. Antiviral drugs are medications that work by blocking or inhibiting the replication of a virus so that it cannot spread further in the body and cause more damage. These drugs are frequently used to treat an active infection caused by a virus. Antiviral medications pose risks during pregnancy because they can potentially cross the placenta and reach the fetus. In this article, we explore antiviral drugs during pregnancy, their side effects on mother and child, and how to use them safely.
What are Antiviral Drugs?
Antiviral drugs are medications that treat an active infection caused by a virus. They work by blocking or inhibiting the replication of the virus so that it cannot spread further in the body and cause more damage. These drugs are frequently used to treat a wide range of infections caused by several viruses including the common cold or influenza, hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, and Epstein-Barr virus among others. They are also used to prevent infections in people who have a weakened immune system or are more susceptible to infection. For example, transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and those undergoing chemotherapy are given antiviral medications as part of their treatment.
You and your baby may not be affected by antiviral drugs as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered, but this has not been fully tested. Your little bundle is important, so check with a doctor to see if he’ll prescribe an antiviral medication to stay safe. Be careful to make sure you are completely finished with viruses like the flu before you go out and about.
If you take antiviral drugs inside the first 48 hours of knowing you have symptoms of flu, they will help the most. Taking them this early can stop pneumonia, and improve your health while making it easier for your body to deal with the problem.
Always be aware: Antiviral medications are different than antibiotics.
- Affect influenza viruses and prevent their reproduction
- Antibiotics kill or stop growth of bacteria
Bacteria does not cause flu, it provokes other secondary kinds of complications after the virus is destroyed, and leaves your body with your immune system. In many of these cases, antibiotics help.
- You will want to contact your doctor right away if you suspect you have been in contact with someone who has, or has had influenza. Your doctor can help by prescribing antiviral drugs to help prevent illness. Hey will evaluate the situation and give his best advice.
- An antiviral phase usually takes about 5 days. After that you should be fairly safe.
- Be careful to follow directions on antiviral drugs. It’s best to take them during meals.
Why Are Antiviral Drugs Used During Pregnancy?
Antiviral drugs are used for treating an active viral infections, including the flu, chickenpox, and shingles, among others. They are also prescribed to prevent certain viral infections in people who are more vulnerable to infection, such as transplant patients or those with weak immune systems. During pregnancy, antiviral drugs are sometimes used to treat viral infections such as
Herpes: This is a common condition that causes painful blisters on the skin and the mucous membranes. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is also responsible for cold sores. Although herpes is not considered a serious infection, it can be dangerous for pregnant women since it can lead to infection of the amniotic sac, a condition known as herpes gestationis (HG). Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Cytomegalovirus: This is a common infection caused by a type of herpes virus that is passed on through close contact and is often asymptomatic. It can be dangerous for pregnant women because it can lead to birth defects and even the death of the fetus. Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of infection in the fetus.
Herpes zoster: Also known as shingles, this is a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. It is a painful condition that is associated with an increased risk of complications during pregnancy due to its proximity to the abdomen.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): This virus is responsible for the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be transmitted from the pregnant woman to her fetus in the third trimester, leading to congenital HIV infection. Antiviral drugs are used to suppress the replication of HIV and reduce the risk of transmission to the fetus.
Side Effects of Antiviral Drugs During Pregnancy
Like all other medications, antiviral drugs can carry some risks for both the mother and the fetus. Certain side effects are short-term and can be managed with adjustments to the dosage or a change in the timing of the dose. Others can be long-term and may require changing the prescription.
The fetus may be exposed to the side effects of antiviral drugs and this can increase the risk of adverse effects such as birth defects, low birth rate, or even death. – There is also a risk that these medications can cross the placenta and reach the fetus, posing serious consequences.
Some antiviral drugs may cause an allergic reaction or trigger a Herxheimer reaction. This is a type of adverse reaction that occurs when the immune system is trying to fight off the infection.
Which Drugs to Stay Away From During Pregnancy?
Here is a list of antiviral drugs that should be avoided during pregnancy:
- Acyclovir: This is an antiviral drug prescribed to prevent or treat herpes zoster or shingles. It is also used to prevent the reactivation of herpes during pregnancy. However, there is some evidence of its potential harm to the fetus and it should be avoided during pregnancy.
- Amantadine: This antiviral drug is used to treat or prevent the flu. However, it is not recommended for use during pregnancy because of a few reports of its potential harm to the fetus.
Certain antiviral drugs are used to treat HIV, such as Nelfinavir and Ritonavir.
Safer Alternatives to Antiviral Medications During Pregnancy
As we mentioned above, some antiviral drugs should be avoided altogether during pregnancy. In other cases, a lower dose or a different drug can be prescribed that is less likely to cause harm to the fetus. Here are some safer alternatives to antiviral drugs during pregnancy:
- Acetaminophen: This is the drug of choice for fever and aches during pregnancy since it does not interfere with fetal development.
- Acetylsalicylic acid: This is a mild analgesic used to treat mild to moderate pain, including headaches and backaches.
- Ibuprofen: This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain, including joint and muscle aches. It is a safer alternative to aspirin and can be taken in larger doses without any harm to the fetus.
- Paracetamol: This is a mild analgesic used to treat mild to moderate pain, including headaches and backaches.
Antiviral drugs are medications that treat an infection caused by a virus. They are frequently used to treat a wide range of infections, including the common cold or influenza, hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, and Epstein-Barr virus among others. During pregnancy, antiviral drugs are sometimes used to treat viral infections such as herpes, cytomegalovirus, herpes zoster, and HIV. They are also prescribed to prevent certain viral infections in people who are more vulnerable to infection, such as transplant patients or those with weak immune systems. Like other medications, antiviral drugs can carry some risks for both the mother and the fetus. Some of these drugs should be avoided altogether during pregnancy, while others can be prescribed at a lower dose or with a different drug. Safer alternatives to antiviral drugs during pregnancy include
- acetylsalicylic acid