Treatment for cytomegalovirus, a member of the herpesvirus family, involves trying to keep viral replication down and addressing the symptoms of infection. Once people contract the virus, it is not possible to provide a cure. People are not always advised to pursue treatment, as healthy individuals can usually fight the virus on their own. In immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer and AIDS patients, as well as infants, treatment for CMV is recommended, as complications of infection can develop.
In many people, CMV is a harmless infection. As long as the immune system is functional, it will limit the replication of the virus and the patient should not develop complications. People can carry CMV without knowing it, unless they experience an immune decline and the virus is able to get a foothold. In these patients, the treatment for CMV is no treatment, with a wait-and-see approach to monitor the patient for signs of problems. In people with immune compromise, treatment is required.
A number of antiviral drugs have been approved for use in treatment for CMV. These drugs will not kill the virus, but they can slow the rate of replication. This reduces the viral load in the patient's body, making the chance of complications much lower. If the patient's immune system starts to recover, the drugs can be discontinued, and the body will take over the fight against the virus. The patient may also be advised to wash the hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing bandages, or engaging in similar activities, to limit the risk of spreading the virus to other people.
People with active cytomegalovirus infection and compromised immune systems can develop complications like problems with hearing and vision. These individual symptoms can be treated as they arise with appropriate medications and therapies. This angle of treatment for CMV is focused on keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. With a combination of reduced viral loads and prompt intervention for complications, treatment can keep patients stable for an extended period of time.
Treatment for CMV is in a constant state of evolution. When diagnosed, people can discuss the range of treatment options and may want to consider meeting with a specialist in the care of immunocompromised patients to learn more about options a general practitioner may not be aware of. It may be possible to sign up for a clinical trial and receive access to medications not yet in general use.