Hydroxychloroquine is used to prevent or treat malaria infections caused by mosquito bites. It does not work against certain types of malaria (chloroquine-resistant). 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. Discuss the most recent information with your doctor before traveling to areas where malaria occurs.
This medication is also used, usually with other medications, to treat certain auto-immune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) when other medications have not worked or cannot be used. It belongs to a class of medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It can reduce skin problems in lupus and prevent swelling/pain in arthritis, though it is not known exactly how the drug works.
OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug, but may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
This medication may also be used for other types of infections (e.g., Q fever endocarditis).
Hydroxychloroquine is usually taken with food or milk to prevent stomach upset. The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to therapy. In children, dosage is also based on weight. For malaria prevention, take this medication by mouth once a week on the same day of the week, or as directed by your doctor. Mark a calendar to help you remember. This drug is usually started 2 weeks before entering the area with malaria. Take it once weekly while in the area, and continue taking it for 4 to 8 weeks after leaving the area or as directed by your doctor. To treat malaria, follow your doctor's instructions.
For lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, take this medication by mouth, usually once or twice daily or as directed. 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.
Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. If you are taking it on a daily schedule, take it at the same time each day. Take this medication exactly as prescribed. Do not stop taking it without talking with your doctor, especially if you are taking it for malaria. It is important to continue taking this for the length of time prescribed. Stopping prevention or treatment too soon may lead to infection or a return of the infection.
Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens. It may take several weeks or months to see improvement if you are taking this for lupus or arthritis. Hydroxychloroquine may not prevent malaria in all cases. If you experience fever or other symptoms of illness, seek immediate medical attention. You may need a different medication. Avoid exposure to mosquitoes. (See also Notes section.)
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: arm/leg/back pain, fast/irregular heartbeat, hair loss/color change, mental/mood changes (e.g., anxiety, depression, hallucinations), ringing in the ears/hearing loss, worsening of skin conditions (e.g., psoriasis).
This medication may infrequently cause serious (sometimes permanent) eye problems or muscle damage, especially if you take it for a long time. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these unlikely but very serious side effects occur: sensitivity to light, vision changes (e.g., blurred vision, seeing light flashes/streaks/halos, missing/blacked-out areas of vision), muscle weakness.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: severe stomach/abdominal pain, severe nausea/vomiting, easy bleeding/bruising, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), seizures, shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, extreme tiredness, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin.
This medication may infrequently cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sudden sweating, shaking, fast heartbeat, hunger, blurred vision, dizziness, or tingling hands/feet. If you have diabetes, be sure to check your blood sugars regularly. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication.
A very serious allergic reaction is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
See also Side Effects section.
Before taking hydroxychloroquine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other aminoquinolines (e.g., chloroquine); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: certain eye problems (retinal or visual field problems from other aminoquinolines such as chloroquine).
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: alcohol dependency, certain blood disorder (porphyria), certain genetic problem (G-6-PD deficiency), diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, certain skin problems (e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis).
This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they may increase your risk of liver problems while you are taking this drug.
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
Caution is advised when using this drug in children because they may be more sensitive to the side effects of the drug. This medication is not recommended for long-term use in children. If a child accidentally takes this medication, even a small amount can be very harmful (possibly fatal). Be sure to keep this drug out of the reach of children.
This medication should be used only when clearly needed during pregnancy. This medication is not recommended for use in treating rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
This medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Your healthcare professionals (e.g., doctor or pharmacist) may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious interactions may occur: penicillamine.
If you are currently using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting hydroxychloroquine.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: digoxin, drugs that may be harmful to your liver (e.g., high doses of acetaminophen, isoniazid).
Check the labels on all your medicines because they may contain acetaminophen. Ask your pharmacist about the safe use of those products.
This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include fainting, slow/irregular heartbeat, extreme excitability, slow/shallow breathing, seizures, loss of consciousness.
Do not share this medication with others.
If used for prolonged periods, laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., liver function tests, eye exams, complete blood count) may be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
When traveling in an area at risk for malaria, use protective clothing, insect repellent, and bed nets. Remain indoors or in well-screened areas when possible. If you are taking this medication to prevent or treat malaria, use it for your current travel or condition only. Do not use it later to prevent or treat another infection unless told to do so by your doctor. A different medication may be necessary in those cases.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature up to 86 degrees F (30 degrees C) away from moisture and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Children are very sensitive to the effects of this medication. It is important to keep this and all medications out of the reach of children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Information last revised August 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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