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What is Hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is a quinoline medicine that helps treat or prevent malaria, a disease caused by parasites that enter the body through a mosquito bite. Malaria is common in Africa, South America, and Southern Asia. This medication does not work against all strains of malaria.
Hydroxychloroquine also helps treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus.
Hydroxychloroquine causes dangerous effects on your heart, especially if you also take certain other medications, such as the antibiotic azithromycin (Z-Pak). If you have symptoms such as fast or pounding heartbeats and sudden dizziness, seek emergency medical attention.
Long-term or high-dose hydroxychloroquine use may cause irreversible damage to the retina of your eye, which could lead to permanent vision problems.
If you experience blurred vision, difficulty focusing, distorted vision, blind spots, difficulty reading, changes in your color vision, or increased sensitivity to light, stop taking hydroxychloroquine immediately and contact your doctor.
What to know before taking hydroxychloroquine?
Do not use hydroxychloroquine if you are allergic to it or chloroquine.
Taking hydroxychloroquine in high doses or long-term use may cause irreversible retinal damage (the membrane layer inside your eye that helps produce vision). This could lead to long-term vision problems. People with kidney disease, pre-existing eye problems, or who also take tamoxifen are at a higher risk of retinal damage.
To ensure hydroxychloroquine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you ever had:
- heart rhythm disorder, heart disease
- changes in vision or damage to your retina caused by an anti-malaria medication
- an allergy to quinine
- a stomach disorder
- liver or kidney disease
- glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, a genetic enzyme deficiency
If you get pregnant during treatment, inform your doctor. In a pregnant woman, malaria is more likely to cause serious illness or death. Malaria during pregnancy may also increase the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and low birth weight.
It is unknown whether hydroxychloroquine will cause harm to an unborn child. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor about the risks of traveling to areas where malaria is common (such as Africa, South America, and Southern Asia).
Breastfeeding may be unsafe while taking this medication. Inquire with your doctor about any potential risks.
People under the age of 18 should not use hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
How to take hydroxychloroquine?
Take hydroxychloroquine as prescribed by your doctor. Read all medication guides and follow all directions on your prescription label. You can buy hydroxychloroquine online or from a local pharmacy store.
You should take hydroxychloroquine with a meal or a glass of milk unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Hydroxychloroquine is typically taken on a daily basis to treat lupus or arthritis.
Hydroxychloroquine is usually taken once a week on the same day each week to prevent malaria. Begin taking the medication two weeks before traveling to an area where malaria is common. Continue to take the medication during your stay and for at least four weeks after you leave the area.
To treat malaria, people should take hydroxychloroquine in one large dose followed by smaller doses over the next two days.
Even if your symptoms improve quickly, continue to take this medication for the full duration prescribed.
If you have been exposed to malaria or if you have a fever or other symptoms of illness during or after a stay in an area where malaria is common, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Insect repellents, protective clothing, and mosquito netting around your bed can help you avoid mosquito bites that can lead to malaria.
There is no medicine that is completely effective in treating or preventing all types of malaria. Consult your doctor if you experience a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea during your treatment.
You may require frequent medical tests and vision exams while taking hydroxychloroquine.
Store hydroxychloroquine at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
Adult Dose for Malaria Prophylaxis:
Take 400 mg salt (310 mg base) orally, once a week.
The maximum dose is 400 mg salt (310 mg base)/dose.
Adult Dose for Malaria:
An initial dose of 800 mg salt (620 mg base) orally, followed by doses of 400 mg salt (310 mg base) six, twenty-four, and forty-eight hours later after the initial dose.
Adult Dose for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
The initial dose is 400 mg to 600 mg salt (310 to 465 mg base)/day orally, divided into one or two doses.
Adult Dose for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:
200 to 400 mg salt (155 to 310 mg base)/day, divided into 1 or 2 doses orally.
An overdose of hydroxychloroquine can be deadly.
Drowsiness, vision changes, seizures, slow heart rate, weak pulse, pounding heartbeats, sudden dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, or slow breathing are all symptoms of an overdose.
Keep hydroxychloroquine away from children. A hydroxychloroquine overdose can be fatal if a child accidentally swallows this medication.
What to avoid while using hydroxychloroquine?
This medication may cause blurred vision and impair your reactions. Avoid driving or engaging in risky activities until you know how this medication will affect you.
Do not take an antacid or Kaopectate (kaolin-pectin) within 4 hours before or 4 hours after you take hydroxychloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine side effects
Common hydroxychloroquine side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain
- feeling nervous or irritable
- headache, dizziness
- loss of appetite, weight loss
- skin rash or itching
- hair loss
Serious side effects
- yellowing of your eyes
- a seizure
- unusual mood changes
- ringing in your ears, trouble hearing
- low blood sugar – headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness, fast heart rate, and feeling anxious or shaky
- severe muscle weakness, loss of coordination, underactive reflexes
- low blood cell counts – fever, chills, tiredness, sore throat, mouth sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed or short of breath
- a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body – skin rash, fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes
What drugs can interact with hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine has the potential to cause a serious heart problem. Your risk may increase if you also take certain other medications for infections, asthma, heart problems, high blood pressure, depression, mental illness, cancer, malaria, or HIV. If you want to order hydroxychloroquine online, make sure to check the drug interactions.
Inform your doctor about all of your other medications, especially:
- insulin or oral diabetes medicine
- heart rhythm medicine
- seizure medication