A “trigger” is a term to illustrate what causes a virus to begin replication, and the action that results in an outbreak of Herpes. In order to prevent herpes outbreaks, first we need to identify what causes them.
Sex itself, apart from the direct contamination of increased exposure to the virus, may have enough emotional impact on a naive individual, to cause an outbreak. Genital herpes spreads so easily because many people don’t realize they have an infection and typical safe sex practices, like wearing condoms, do not completely prevent spread of the virus. Here are five things experts say you should know about protecting yourself against herpes.
Here are five things experts say you should know about protecting yourself against herpes.
Avoid sexual contact during visible outbreaks.
The highest risk of transmitting herpes is during an outbreak.
Consider a herpes test. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend widespread screening for herpes, experts say that anyone who is concerned about the disease should consider getting tested.
Know how herpes spreads. You can catch herpes through oral sex or intercourse, as well as skin-to-skin contact where the virus sheds.
Use condoms wisely. Condoms can cut the risk of transmitting herpes by half. Since the virus sheds outside the vagina or anal area, experts advise wearing a condom during genital touching or foreplay. Understand that herpes is not inevitable. Having herpes does not mean that you will eventually infect a long-term partner.
Some physicians feel that food has a particular effect upon the incidence of recurrent ﬂare-ups. Foods high in arginine have been indicted as possible culprits. Nuts, needs, and onions are a few of the substances that seem to be active in reducing our resistance to the disease.
Reducing sugar and alcohol consumption has also been shown to reduce outbreaks.
This idea will be discussed further in the section on treatment. It is important that foods be consumed in moderation. I am not saying that a portion of the foods cannot be eaten at some time. Keeping these foods in good balance is very important. This will be discussed further.
Of all the indirect factors in herpes ﬂare-ups, stress by far the most signiﬁcant. There are a myriad of stresses that we undergo today in the strains of life. I shall point out that for a few athletes in our university and at all other schools as well, examination time is a period of great stress. Papers due, projects must be completed, cramming must be ﬁnished, examinations written, grades worried over and graduating friends bade farewell. There are vacation jobs to look for and make-up exams for which to prepare. Life is hectic at ﬁnals time and often Herpes surfaces.
But there are other types of stress. Money worries, fatigue, how are the children growing up, fear of illness, fear of rape, fear of impotence, success, lack of success. All of these are causes of stress. And all can lead to episodes of Herpes.
You can reduce stress by getting adequate sleep which is crucial to the proper functioning and repairing of the body.
The sun’s irradiation is a serious problem to people who have a poor defense against the Herpes virus. Protection against the sun is important, not only for Herpes but also for other conditions. Keratoses (the; blemishes of age) and even skin cancer do occur with repeated exposure.
Reduce sun exposure by wearing a hat, and using sunscreen and lip balm whenever you go outside.
Injury to tissues is another trigger. We see this on the lips with Herpes 1, in injury to the mouth and cheek, and in facial surgery which involves the trigeminal nerve. Blows to the face that cause contusion inside the mouth often cause sores from which the virus of Herpes can be cultured. Prolonged dental work may produce this same result. Surgical procedures involving the trigeminal nerve are not common, but when that nerve is cut, approximately 90% of the patients develop fever blisters.
Roxanne had a sports car—a small one. She was a good driver and drove the freeways with conﬁdence. One morning as she was driving to work, a truck suddenly stopped in front of her. She was unable to brake soon enough, and piled into the truck. She was very lucky, for her little car slipped under the bed of the truck. The momentum dissipated and the car stopped just before the truck—bed entered the windshield.
Roxanne had some cuts and abrasions and a lot of sore muscles. She also struck her face on the steering wheel of the sports car. There were lacerations inside of Roxanne’s mouth but no teeth had been knocked out. She was observed overnight in the hospital but no serious problem was identiﬁed, and the following morning she was allowed to return home.
When we saw her, the main complaint was canker sores. Ulcers of the mouth along the course of the blow of the steering wheel were evident on the inside of the cheek. The Herpes virus Type 1 was cultured from the lesions.
Some athletic activity acts as a trigger. Jock was a graduate student who had been an undergraduate athlete. He still maintained a rigorous workout schedule. His only problem was that of Herpes “lesions following prolonged physical activity. Three or four hours after a heavy workout, Jock would sometimes notice burning on his hip region and also on the penis. In two days he would have typical Herpetic sores. Jock denied sexual contact each of the several times we cared for him. Other physicians have observed similar instances of ﬂare-ups following physical activity. Topical application of lysine and zinc is highly effective at killing the virus on contact.
Herpes occurs more frequently during the summer. The incidence is far less frequent during the winter, and as one might expect, increases in the spring and decreases in the fall. One explanation that seems apparent is that there is more sex and more exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun during the summer months. It is also possible that the factors of heat and cold may be; important in the incidence of the disease. I have yet to know of any research that looks at this latter issue.
Menstrual periods are often associated with ﬂare-up of Herpes. We observed a deﬁnite frequency in our study. Many patients report a history of a relationship between the outbreak of sores and their menstrual period.
A study which was published by Yale University noted that the time at which Herpes occurred with signiﬁcant regularity was 7 to 11 days before the beginning of the menstrual period. Further observations, this phenomenon must be made, but many feel are chemical factors at work in the body that cause such an effect. The great probability is that the enormous hormonal changes which a woman undergoes during the entire 28-day cycle are a major factor.
Hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, vary widely in concentration during this time. These variations may be a factor.
One question that these changes raise in my mind is that of the relation between Herpes and birth control pills, which are mainly these same hormones. Why does the epidemic of Herpes correspond so well in history with the advent of the pill? I’m not knocking the pill as a birth control device for it is the most effective thing that we have-but I am raising the question of the relationship.
Smoking causes a marked drop in the immune response. Research has proven conclusively that cancer of the lung occurs in direct proportion to the number of cigarettes consumed per day; the more one smokes, the greater the possibility of developing this incurable problem.
The research points out that carbon monoxide is one of the by-products of the ﬂame end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. Minute amounts of the substance are inhaled with each draw. Whether the gas comes from a cigarette or from the tailpipe of a car, its frightening action has the same effect on the erythrocytes, the red blood cells. The toxic gas unites permanently with these red cells so they cannot carry any load of oxygen. Without oxygen, tissues cannot survive. Erythrocytes are like microscopic wheelbarrows whose task is to carry the sustaining oxygen. During their lifespan of about six weeks these tiny carriers circulate from the lungs to the cells. Oxygen is carried in the form of oxy-hemoglobin, a loose chemical binding which breaks apart in the tissue where the oxygen is needed. Hundreds of times a day each of these cells circulates to carry its load.
In the presence of carbon monoxide some of the tiny wheelbarrows become like one in which a workman has allowed a load of cement to harden. The worker can no monoxide becomes welded to the red blood cell by a solid bond and the erythrocyte can never rid itself of the burden. It will carry the toxin until it deteriorates at the end of the six weeks. Smoking causes some of the blood cells to be so burdened, and researchers feel this: lessening of oxygen to the tissues may be more important than tar as a source of trouble. The carbon monoxide weakens the defensive capabilities of the body and the Immune Response is decreased. As I’ve stated, the majority of the patients whom have treated for Herpes are smokers. There is an increase in the frequency of cancer of the oral cavity, cancer of the cervix, and cancer of the prostate in persons who smoke. There is also an increase frequency of cancer of the tissues of the oral cavity, cancer of the cervix, and cancer of the prostate, in persons who have a history of Herpes. When these two risks are combined, it’s dynamite!