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Hydroxychloroquine - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Hydroxychloroquine: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine belongs to the anti-malarial class of drugs and it acts by interrupting the life cycle of malarial parasites inside the human body. It is considered a less toxic derivative of chloroquine and is widely prescribed to treat conditions such as autoimmune diseases (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis). It can help patients with lupus having skin issues and patients with arthritis suffering from swelling and pain. Hydroxychloroquine is not administered for coronavirus infection unless you are enrolled in a trial. You should discuss the risks and advantages with your doctor before consuming Hydroxychloroquine. It is available as a tablet for oral consumption. 

What are the uses of Hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Malaria
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Discoid and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

Hydroxychloroquine can be used alone or in combination with other drugs for the treatment of malaria. It can be used safely during pregnancy. Other uses include providing symptomatic relief in infectious mononucleosis and extraintestinal amoebiasis. 

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What are the side effects of Hydroxychloroquine?

Common side effects include: 

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset or dyspepsia (indigestion)          
  • Vomiting

Severe or long-term side effects include: 

  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Visual disturbances
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Discolouration of skin
  • Hair loss 
  • Changes in hair colour
  • Slow  heart rate
  • Ankle oedema (swelling of the ankles)

These symptoms need to be immediately reported to your healthcare provider, if observed.

Consult our experts for a medical opinion.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Hydroxychloroquine

1. Is Hydroxychloroquine a steroid?

No, Hydroxychloroquine is not a steroid. It is a steroid-sparing agent; It falls under a category of drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) - in other words, it reduces the dose of steroids required to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and discoid and systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. Do not self-prescribe, consult a doctor.

2. Is Hydroxychloroquine a long-acting medication?

Yes, hydroxychloroquine is a long-acting drug that can stay in your system for up to three months. It will take some time for the side effects to fade in the event of a sudden stoppage. As a result, it can take up to 12 weeks for this medication to begin working. However, you should be aware of its short- and long-term side effects.

3. Does Hydroxychloroquine prevent coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No, Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19. A study, published in JAMA, carried out by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, PETAL Clinical Trials Network, focused on hospitalised patients with moderate to severe disease. It states that there was no additional benefit of hydroxychloroquine over placebo for treatment of COVID-19. Misuse of Hydroxychloroquine can increase the risk of heart diseases, blood disorders and disorders and failure of the kidney and liver.

4. Does FDA approve Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19?

Hydroxychloroquine is FDA-approved to prevent or treat malaria, discoid lupus erythematosus or SLE, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. However, it is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19, and the FDA recommended initial evaluation and monitoring when using this drug for the same. Consult a doctor to know more.

5. Does WHO recommend Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19?

WHO does not recommend Hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce mortality or the need for or duration of mechanical ventilation in patients with COVID-19. This recommendation is based on six trials with more than 6000 participants who did not have COVID-19 and received hydroxychloroquine. Consult a health expert to know more about research in this area.

6. Is Hydroxychloroquine available over the counter?

Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug and is not available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Because this medication can be harmful to children and can have side effects on the eyes and heart, it is recommended that you do not take this medication without a doctor’s prescription. Selling and buying this medicine without a prescription is prohibited in India and should be avoided at all costs.

7. What special precautions should I follow?

You should inform your healthcare providers about your allergic reactions to certain medications, including chloroquine. Consuming cannabis and alcohol are restricted while consuming this medicine as it might increase dizziness and inability to function. This drug may alter your blood sugar levels, so inform your doctor if you have diabetes before taking this medicine.

8. What is the downside of taking Hydroxychloroquine?

No specific downside is known except for its interaction with some other medications. These medications are the following:

  • Drugs used for indigestion such as antacids
  • A group of antibiotics called macrolides, including Erythromycin
  • Antiviral drugs such as Remdesivir
  • Quinidine
It is recommended that you do not take this medication without a doctor’s prescription.

9. Does Hydroxychloroquine make you gain weight?

No clinical trial has reported that Hydroxychloroquine can make you gain weight. However, bloating or weight gain can be experienced by some people because of water or fluid retention in the body. You should inform your physician if you experience severe or unusual weight change. Do consult a physician if there are other symptoms as well.

10. Can you just stop taking Hydroxychloroquine?

As of now, no data from any clinical trial suggests any withdrawal symptoms after the abrupt stoppage of Hydroxychloroquine. However, the disease under treatment may flare up in some older people. You may also need to stop the drug to avoid excessive side effects. You should contact your healthcare provider before you stop consuming the medication. You can also consult our experts for a medical opinion.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.

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