What is this medicine?
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE is used to treat or prevent malaria, a disease caused by parasites that enter the body through the bite of a mosquito. Malaria is common in areas such as Africa, South America, and Southern Asia.
Hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus.
Hydroxychloroquine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What should my health care professional know before I take this medicine?
You should not use Hydroxychloroquine if you are allergic to hydroxychloroquine, or if you have a history of vision changes or damage to your retina caused by an anti-malaria medication.
Hydroxychloroquine should not be used for long-term treatment in children.
To make sure Hydroxychloroquine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have any of these conditions:
- liver disease;
- alcoholism; or
- glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficiency.
It is not known whether Hydroxychloroquine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
Malaria is more likely to cause death in a pregnant woman. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about the risks of traveling to areas where malaria is common.
It is not known whether hydroxychloroquine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Hydroxychloroquine without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I take this medicine?
Take Hydroxychloroquine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Take Hydroxychloroquine with a meal or a glass of milk, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Hydroxychloroquine is sometimes given only once per week. Choose the same day each week to take this medication if you are on a weekly dosing schedule.
To prevent malaria: Start taking the medicine 2 weeks before entering an area where malaria is common. Continue taking Hydroxychloroquine regularly during your stay and for at least 8 weeks after you leave the area.
To treat malaria: Your doctor may recommend a single dose of Hydroxychloroquine, or a high starting dose followed by a smaller dose during the last 2 days of treatment. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
Take Hydroxychloroquine for the full prescribed length of time for malaria. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared.
In addition to taking Hydroxychloroquine, use protective clothing, insect repellents, and mosquito netting around your bed to further prevent mosquito bites that could cause malaria.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have been exposed to malaria, or if you have fever or other symptoms of illness during or after a stay in an area where malaria is common.
When treating lupus or arthritis, Hydroxychloroquine is usually given daily for several weeks or months. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 6 months of treatment.
While using Hydroxychloroquine, you may need frequent blood tests at your doctor’s office.
No medication is 100% effective in treating or preventing all types of malaria. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if you have fever, vomiting, or diarrhea during your treatment.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
What may interact with this medicine?
Hydroxychloroquine can harm your liver. This effect is increased when you also use other medicines harmful to the liver. You may need dose adjustments or special tests if you have recently used:
- acetaminophen (Tylenol);
- an antibiotic, antifungal medicine, sulfa drug, or tuberculosis medicine;
- birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;
- blood pressure medication;
- cancer medications;
- cholesterol-lowering medications such as Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol, Simcor, Vytorin, Zocor;
- gout or arthritis medications (including gold injections);
- HIV/AIDS medications;
- medicines to treat psychiatric disorders;
- an NSAID such as Advil, Aleve, Arthrotec, Cataflam, Celebrex, Indocin, Motrin, Naprosyn, Treximet, Voltaren; or
- seizure medications.
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Hydroxychloroquine. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
What side effects may I notice from taking this medicine?
Some people taking this medication over long periods of time or at high doses have developed irreversible damage to the retina of the eye. Stop taking Hydroxychloroquine and call your doctor at once if you have trouble focusing, if you see light streaks or flashes in your vision, or if you notice any swelling or color changes in your eyes.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Hydroxychloroquine: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- muscle weakness, twitching, or uncontrolled movement;
- loss of balance or coordination;
- blurred vision, light sensitivity, seeing halos around lights;
- pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding;
- confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; or
- seizure (convulsions).
Less serious Hydroxychloroquine side effects may include:
- headache, ringing in your ears, spinning sensation;
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
- loss of appetite, weight loss;
- mood changes, feeling nervous or irritable;
- skin rash or itching; or
- hair loss.