Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) Overview
Hydroxychloroquine - a Strong Weapon against Serious Diseases
Hydroxychloroquine is better known under its brand name Plaquenil. This drug has been proving its efficiency in the treatment and prevention of malaria since 1955 when it got an FDA-approval and came on the shelves of the American drugstores. Except for its antimalarial properties, this medication is also known for its immunosuppressive effect. This is the reason why Plaquenil is prescribed as a part of complex therapy in people dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. However, as of 2020, this drug has also shown the potential to become the cure for the patients affected by the world COVID-19 pandemic. Though the medication is still being studied and tested in this regard, some positive results of its experimental use in infected people are already present. The WHO has Hydroxychloroquine on its List of Essential Medications. Besides, this organization allowed its off-label use to help patients with the novel coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine. Details on Intake
Because of the diversity of the diseases, Plaquenil can treat, the dosing regimen significantly differs. Hydroxychloroquine belongs to the medicines that can only be bought on prescription. Thus, you should first visit a doctor to get the medication. Your healthcare provider will evaluate all the pros and cons of using this medication in your particular case. Based on the results of his/her examination, your age, weight, and general health condition, you’ll be given the recommendations on the safe and effective dosing regimen. Always stick to the doctor’s prescriptions. It will allow you to minimize the risks for severe side effects and get the most benefit from the drug. The frequency, the duration, and the dose of the drug needed are determined individually. The common recommendations for the therapy of lupus say that the daily dose for adults should range from 200 mg to 400 mg. It can be taken either once a day or divided into two doses. The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis presupposes dose titration from 400 – 600 mg daily to 200 – 300 mg daily as soon as the needed therapeutic effect is achieved. To prevent infecting with malaria, you should start taking the medication two weeks before the possible exposure and continue the intake for a month after coming back from the dangerous area. With this aim, take 400 mg of the drug on the same day of the week. In case you need treatment, the loading dose of Plaquenil is 800 mg. For the following intakes, it should be reduced to 400 mg. Children, elderly patients, and individuals with serious heart, liver or kidney issues may need their dose to be adjusted. It is better to take Plaquenil with food, as it will reduce its negative impact on the gastrointestinal tract.
Contraindications to Plaquenil Use
Despite the positive effects of the drug on the treatment of some very serious health problems, it can get dangerous when used in individuals with certain contraindications to hydroxychloroquine. Plaquenil is contraindicated in the following categories of patients:
- People allergic to the active ingredient of the drug, 4-aminoquinoline or any of the drug excipients;
- Individuals with serious heart rhythm problems, QT-prolongation;
- Patients suffering from psoriasis;
Hydroxychloroquine. What should You Tell a Doctor before Intake?The success and the safety of your treatment with Hydroxychloroquine seriously depend on your general health condition. To help your doctor set the right dosing regimen and reduce the likelihood of developing serious side effects, you should tell him/her about the following things:
- Current or past alcohol abuse;
- • Vision or hearing problems;
- Arrhythmia in medical history;
- • Certain skin diseases;
- Kidney or liver issues.
General Recommendations for People Taking Plaquenil
The therapy with Hydroxychloroquine can last from a couple of days to a several weeks. To bring the possible harm of the drug to zero, you need to keep to some advice. They will help you go through the period of treatment with minimum unwanted effects. Recommendation 1. Protect your skin from the sun. Plaquenil will make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet. Therefore, being exposed to the sun, you risk getting sunburnt. To prevent it, use high-level protection sunscreen. Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and proper clothes can also help to deal with this unwanted effect of the drug. Recommendation 2. Avoid activities that demand alertness. Hydroxychloroquine can make you dizzy. Besides, the drug can alter your vision, which can be dangerous when you drive or operate the machinery. Try to avoid such activities until you know your reaction to the drug. Recommendation 3. Don’t drink alcohol. The medication is metabolized by the liver. Taking high doses of Plaquenil, the load on the organ is very intensive. When you drink alcohol, it gets even higher. As a result, you risk developing severe adverse effects associated with hepatic failure, including yellowing of the skin and eyeballs, dark urine, severe abdominal pain. Recommendation 4. Don’t take drugs. The reason we give such a recommendation is the same as with alcohol, the effects on your liver. However, it is also important to add that the drugs, the same as Plaquenil, can affect your mood. Therefore, the substances will work in synergy increasing the risks for severe adverse reactions and, possibly, Hydroxychloroquine overdose symptoms. Cannabis can intensify the negative effects of the drug on your eyes.