Antiviral drugs are medications designed to combat viral infections by targeting specific stages of the virus’ life cycle or functions.
Some examples of such antiviral drugs include:
1. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza):
These antiviral drugs are used to treat influenza (flu) infections. They work by inhibiting the neuraminidase enzyme on the surface of the influenza virus, thereby preventing its ability to infect other cells. When administered early, they are likely to reduce the duration and severity of flu symptoms.
2. Acyclovir (Zovirax), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), and Famciclovir (Famvir):
These antiviral drugs are used to treat herpes infections, including oral and genital herpes (herpes simplex virus, HSV) and shingles (varicella-zoster virus). They work by inhibiting viral DNA replication, thus reducing the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
3. Lamivudine (3TC) and Tenofovir (Viread):
These antiviral medications are used for managing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. These drugs are categorized as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and work by inhibiting the reverse transcription step in the HIV life cycle, reducing the viral load in the body and consequently delaying the progression of the disease.
4. Ritonavir (Norvir) and Lopinavir/Ritonavir (Kaletra):
These are protease inhibitors used in the treatment of HIV. They work by inhibiting the protease enzyme, which is essential for the maturation of HIV particles, thereby preventing the virus from becoming infectious.
5. Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), Ledipasvir/Sofosbuvir (Harvoni), and Glecaprevir/Pibrentasvir (Mavyret):
These drugs are used to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. They inhibit different stages of the HCV life cycle, aiding the reduction of viral load and improving liver health. These drugs have revolutionized the treatment of HCV, offering high cure rates.
Ribavirin is used to treat various viral infections, including hepatitis C and some respiratory viruses. It works by interfering with viral RNA and DNA synthesis, reducing viral replication.
7. Remdesivir (Veklury):
Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug used to treat viral infections, including COVID-19. It works by inhibiting the replication of the virus’s genetic material. Although it’s not a cure, it has been used to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms in some COVID-19 patients.
Ivermectin, traditionally an antiparasitic drug, has been explored as a potential antiviral treatment, particularly for certain parasitic and mosquito-borne diseases. Its mechanism against viruses is not fully understood, and its use for COVID-19 remains controversial and subject to ongoing research and debate.
Potential Side Effects of Antiviral Drugs
(i) Fatigue: antiviral drugs have the potential to influence an individual’s metabolism, resulting in a sense of weakness and fatigue.
(ii) Headaches: antiviral drugs may induce headaches through immune responses thereby affecting blood vessels and the functionality of the brain.
(iii) Psychological effects: this can occur as a result of brain chemistry leading to feelings of depression, mood fluctuations, or anxiety in individuals.
(iv) Illusion: antiviral drugs may affect the perception and cognitive ability of an individual, leading to transient visual or sensory distortion.
(v) Allergic reactions: antiviral drugs can induce hypersensitive responses, resulting in skin rashes and itching.
Necessary Precautions to Follow
Although these drugs are used in the management of viral infections, it is important to adhere to specific precautions to aid effectiveness and reduce side effects.
(i) Appropriately adhere to dosage prescription.
(ii) Ensure a strict storage approach.
(iii) Take cognizance of side effects, allergies, or any unusual symptoms.
(iv) Maintain proper hydration.
(v) Inquire, seek guidance, and embrace education.
These medications can help inhibit virus replication, reduce symptoms, and improve the recovery process. It is important to note that the effectiveness of antiviral drugs can differ based on the specific virus and the infection stage.
Some antiviral drugs may have side effects, necessitating supervision by a healthcare professional. Adhering to precautions helps maximize the benefits attached to its usage and reduces potential complications. Furthermore, the continuous development and research of antiviral drugs are aimed at addressing emerging viral infections.
Researched by Aduloju Oluwatoyosi Afolabi