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Identifying herpes: Common symptoms you should know

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Síntomas del herpes, Salud sexual, mujer latina feliz, infecciones urinarias, orina. / Sexual health, happy latin woman, UTIs, urine
Herpes symptoms to look for (Photo: MundoNOW Archive)
  • Learn to recognize herpes symptoms.
  • The disease is treatable, but there is no cure.
  • What you need to know.

Herpes is a common viral infection, caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and it’s more prevalent than many people realize.

It typically manifests in two forms: HSV-1, which commonly causes oral herpes, and HSV-2, responsible for genital herpes.

Both types can cause outbreaks of sores and other symptoms, though many individuals with the virus may not show symptoms at all.

Understanding the different forms of herpes and their prevalence is crucial in recognizing the importance of identifying symptoms and seeking treatment.

Recognizing oral herpes symptoms

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Oral herpes, primarily caused by HSV-1, is commonly known for causing cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth.

These sores are small, fluid-filled lesions that can be painful and are often preceded by a tingling or burning sensation in the affected area.

Symptoms can also include sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and fever, especially during the first outbreak.

It’s important to note that oral herpes can be spread even when sores are not present, a fact often overlooked in understanding the transmission of the virus.

Symptoms of genital herpes

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Genital herpes, most often associated with HSV-2, presents symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions, making awareness vital.

The most recognizable symptom is a cluster of blisters on or around the genitals or rectum, which eventually open and become painful sores.

Other symptoms include itching or burning sensations in the genital area, pain during urination and, in some cases, flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Given the sensitive nature of these herpes symptoms, many individuals may feel embarrassed or hesitant to seek medical advice, but early diagnosis and management are key to controlling the spread  of the virus.

It can be asymptomatic

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

A significant challenge in identifying herpes is that many individuals infected with HSV may not show any symptoms, a condition known as being asymptomatic.

This asymptomatic nature can lead to unknowing transmission of the virus to others.

It’s important for sexually active individuals to have regular health screenings, including tests for HSV, even in the absence of symptoms.

Understanding that it can be present without visible symptoms is crucial.

The psychological impact of the virus

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Living with this virus can have a significant psychological impact, often due to the stigma associated with the condition.

Individuals may experience feelings of shame, anxiety or depression, especially following the initial diagnosis.

It’s important to seek emotional support, whether through counseling, support groups or open conversations with trusted individuals.

Acknowledging and addressing the psychological aspect of herpes is as important as treating the physical symptoms.

Managing the virus

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Managing herpes effectively involves a combination of medical treatment and lifestyle adjustments.

Antiviral medications can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, as well as the risk of transmission to others.

Alongside medication, managing stress, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and understanding personal outbreak triggers can help control the condition.

It’s also important to have open and honest communication with sexual partners about herpes, fostering a responsible approach to managing and living with the virus.

Prevention and safe practices

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Preventing spread is key, especially since there’s currently no cure for the virus.

Safe sex practices, including the use of condoms, can significantly reduce the risk of transmitting genital herpes.

For oral herpes, avoiding kissing and sharing items like utensils or lip balm during an outbreak can prevent spreading the virus.

Regular health screenings and honest conversations about sexual health are also essential components of prevention.

See a doctor if you think you have herpes symptoms

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

If you suspect you have herpes symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination and, if necessary, a swab test of the affected area or a blood test.

Early diagnosis and treatment can not only alleviate the severity of symptoms but also help in managing the condition more effectively.

Don’t let embarrassment or uncertainty deter you from seeking medical advice; early intervention is key in handling herpes.

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