Hydroxychloroquine is 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. Discuss the most recent information with your doctor before traveling to areas where malaria occurs.
This medication is also used to treat certain auto-immune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis). 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.
How to use Hydroxychloroquine SULFATE
Take this medication by mouth, usually with food to prevent stomach upset, exactly as directed by your doctor. The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. In children, dosage 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 lupus 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.
If you are also taking a certain drug for diarrhea (kaolin) or taking antacids (such as magnesium/aluminum hydroxide), take hydroxychloroquine at least 4 hours before or after these products. These products may bind with hydroxychloroquine, preventing your body from fully absorbing it.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, or headache may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
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 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, hallucinations), hearing changes (such as ringing in the ears, hearing loss), easy bruising/bleeding, signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn’t go away, fever), signs of liver disease (such as severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine), muscle weakness, unwanted/uncontrolled movements (including tongue/face twitching), hair loss, hair/skin color changes.
This medication may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sudden sweating, shaking, 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.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does 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. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. 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: fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, slow/shallow breathing, seizures.
Do not share this medication with others.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as eye exams, reflex tests, liver function, EKG, complete blood counts) should be done if you are taking hydroxychloroquine for a long time. Keep all medical and lab appointments. 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 your doctor tells you to.
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. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.