There are many outbreaks of the Zika virus going on around the world at this time. If you have been diagnosed with Zika, you can use home strategies and over-the-counter medication to treat the symptoms of the viral infection. There is no medical cure for Zika, but your symptoms should improve after about a week. There are some things that you can do to ease your symptoms until you feel better and you should also be aware of the potential complications of Zika. Given that we are still collecting incidence data, if someone has traveled to an area with Zika and feel that they have the infection, they should present to their doctor’s office for further testing
Treating the Zika Virus
1Take acetaminophen. Zika can cause muscle pain and headaches, so try taking an over-the counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen. The usual dose is between 500 to 1000mg every four to six hours. Max dosage for acetaminophen is 4000mg in 24 hours. You can find acetaminophen in your local drugstore or pharmacy. Make sure that you read and follow the instructions on the bottle.
- Avoid taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin until after your Zika virus diagnosis has been confirmed by a physician. Symptoms of Zika can be similar to dengue fever and if you have dengue fever, taking Ibuprofen or Aspirin may increase your risk of bleeding and hemorrhage.
2Rest as much as possible. There is no anti-viral medication available to treat the Zika virus, so your immune system will have to fight the infection on its own. You can support your immune system by resting as much as possible.
- Try to sleep for at least eight hours every night and take naps during the day as needed.
- Take some time off of work and try to relax at home.
- Avoid stressful or energy-consuming activities while you are recovering.
3Drink plenty of fluids. The Zika virus can cause dehydration, so make sure that you drink plenty of water. Aim for about eight 8 ounce glasses per day. You can also include some decaffeinated tea and juice to hydrate yourself.
- You may even want to include an electrolyte sports drink each day. The salt in the sports drink may help your body to hold onto some extra water.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol while you are sick with Zika. Caffeine and alcohol will make dehydration worse.
See a doctor if you suspect you have Zika. If you think you may have been exposed to Zika or you may be sick, you should see your physician. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or actively trying to become pregnant.
5Get vaccinated if and when a vaccine is released. Medical researchers are currently working on developing a vaccine against the Zika infection. However, it has not yet been created and there is no announced release date. If a vaccine does become available, make sure that you get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Treating the Potential Complications
1Watch for potential complications. The main two complications that may be associated with the Zika virus include GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that affects the nerves and may lead to paralysis) and microcephaly (an abnormally small head circumference in infants born from infected mothers). The connection between these two complications and the Zika virus has not been confirmed, but there is a strong suspicion that they are related.
- Any woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant and has traveled to countries with confirmed Zika should present to their physician at the first sign of any infection.
- Because the potential complications are much more severe than the Zika virus itself, it is important to be aware of how to treat complications if and when they arise.
2Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect you may have GBS. GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system. It damages the outer covering of the nerves, leading to sensations of numbness and it may also cause paralysis. GBS starts in the feet and toes and then moves up towards the head. Treatment for GBS includes:
- Ventilator support. You may need help breathing if the paralysis moves to your breathing muscles.
- Plasma exchange. You may receive an infusion of new plasma (blood) to remove autoimmune antibodies that are causing the damage to your nerves.
- Immunoglobulin therapy. This treatment fights the autoimmune antibodies in your system that are causing GBS.
- Medications. You may need some medications for pain and other symptom management as needed.
3Get help for a child born with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a possible complication of the Zika virus that may affect the unborn baby of an infected pregnant woman. A baby born with microcephaly may have an abnormally small head, developmental delays, and mental retardation. This condition can also cause an infant to die. Microcephaly has no cure, but there are strategies to support a child born with this condition.
- Support strategies include community and academic support programs, as well as monitoring and support from your child’s doctor.
- If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with Zika, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
How can mosquitoes give you the Zika virus if you were bitten by one?
Infected female mosquitoes will inject the virus/bacteria through your bloodstream, which is why it is important to prevent mosquito bites at all cost, especially in outbreak regions.
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