At least one in four Americans are known to be infected with the viruses that cause genital herpes. Outbreaks of genital herpes lesions can be painful and embarrassing. Although these outbreaks usually clear up without treatment in about 10 days, they are incredibly contagious during this time and can cause many dire complications.
Genital and Oral Herpes
Cold sores and genital herpes lesions are both caused by a herpes simplex virus. There are two types, called Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV2). While HSV1 usually causes cold sores and HSV2 usually causes genital herpes lesion, both viruses can cause either type of lesion. Also of importance, both virus types can cause the same complications. So even though cold sores may seem less repulsive than genital herpes, they are just as capable of causing additional problems.
Herpes and Pregnancy
The newborn immune system is fairly strong thanks to the passive immunity it receives from its mother. Unfortunately, that immunity does not protect it against the herpes virus. If a woman gives birth during an active genital herpes outbreak, she can pass the virus to her baby as it passes through the birth canal. Even non-apparent outbreaks, in the prodromal stage (i.e. before symptoms appear) can be contagious. Congenital herpes infections can be very aggressive with the newborn nervous system, often resulting in blindness, brain damage, or even death for the infant. A common complication of congenital herpes is called herpes encephalitis. The virus travels into the brain, causing inflammation of brain tissue and subsequent respiratory arrest. If left untreated the fatality rate is over 70%.
In approximately 10% of genital herpes cases herpes meningitis is also an occurrence. This infection is the result of inflammation of the meninges, the membranes which encase the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation causes extreme headaches, fever, sensitivity to light, and vomiting. Unlike other meningitis infections, herpes meningitis usually resolves on its own. However, the infection can seem like a lifetime as it lasts up to seven days.
Untreated herpes have also been linked to other diseases of the nervous system including multiple sclerosis, neuralgia, ascending or traverse myelitis, epilepsy, and atypical pain syndromes. These most likely are the result of the ravage the herpes virus can cause within the nervous system over a lifetime of recurrent outbreaks.
About 50,000 Americans are affected by ocular herpes each year. These eye infections cause inflammation and sores most commonly on the lids or even on the outside of the cornea. While the infection usually resolves on its own, it is capable of devastating results like blindness. Stromal keratitis, occurring in 25% of ocular herpes cases, can cause scarring and thinning of the cornea. This weakens the integrity of the eye globe and can cause it to rupture, resulting in blindness. These complications are all much more likely to occur when herpes goes untreated. By preventing herpes outbreaks through natural treatment you can greatly decrease your chances of developing these harmful conditions.
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