Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). It can decrease the pain and swelling of arthritis, preventing joint damage leading to long-term disability. Hydroxychloroquine is also used to prevent or treat malaria caused by mosquito bites. The United States Center for Disease Control provides updated guidelines and travel recommendations for the prevention and treatment of malaria in different parts of the world.
How to take it
Hydroxychloroquine comes in oral tablets. Take this medication by mouth exactly as directed by your doctor. To help prevent stomach upset, take it with food or milk. Swallow the tablets whole since breaking or crushing them may leave a bitter taste. The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Children’s dose is also based on weight.
To prevent malaria, take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually once a week on the same day each week. Mark a calendar to help you remember. This drug is usually started 1 to 2 weeks before entering the malarious area. Continue to take it weekly while in the area and for 4 to 8 weeks after leaving the area, or as directed by your doctor. To treat malaria, follow your doctor’s instructions.
For lumps or rheumatoid arthritis, take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice daily. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose. Once you have been taking the medication for a while and your condition has improved, your doctor may instruct you to lower your dose until you find the dose that works best with the fewest side effects.
Side effects of Hydroxychloroquine
Hydroxychloroquine typically is well tolerated. The most common side effects are nausea and diarrhea, which often improve with time. Less common side effects include rash, hair changes, and muscle weakness.
Serious side effects
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including slow heartbeat, symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, unusual/sudden weight gain), mental/mood changes (such as anxiety, depression, rare thoughts of suicide, hallucination), hearing changes (such as ringing in the ears, hearing loss) signs of kidney problems, liver disease, hair loss, skin changes.
This medication may cause low blood sugar. Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sudden sweating, shaking, hunger, bluured vision, dizziness. If you have diabetes, be sure to check your blood sugars regularly. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication.
Drud interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This documents dose not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Some products that may interact with this drug are: penicillamine, remdesivir.
Many drugs besides hydroxychloroquine may affect the heart rythm (QT prolongation) including amiodarone, azithromycin, disopyramide, dronedarone, pimozide, quinidine among others.
Before taking this medication tell your doctor or pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approvel. Store at room temperature away from moisture and light. Do not keep in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Hydroxychloroquine can be used in many in many other autoimmune disease.