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Hydroxychloroquine – During COVID-19 (Under Study)

hydroxychloroquine

Hydroxychloroquine also known as HCQ tablets have gained popularity as a coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment, in recent times. However, HCQ tablets are currently under clinical trial as a possible treatment for COVID-19 pandemic and their efficacy in treating COVID-19 is yet to be shown in the studies.

Disclaimer: This content does not encourage the use of Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ tablets as medications to treat COVID-19 without doctor’s recommendation. 

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Chloroquine (CQ), are two generic drugs that have entered the spotlight in the desperate search of effective treatments for COVID-19. So, let us get a quick view about these unproven corona medications.

What is Hydroxychloroquine and why is it used?

Hydroxychloroquine is an oral tablet that belongs to the class of antimalarial drugs. It is predominantly prescribed to prevent and treat acute attacks of malaria. 

Besides, it can also be prescribed to treat certain auto-immune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and  some skin problems in lupus and to prevent swelling or pain in arthritis.

Hydroxychloroquine Side effects

Hydroxychloroquine can cause side effects in some cases. The most common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Apart from the above symptoms,  Hydroxychloroquine can also have serious side effects which include; 

  • Issues with heart rhythm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Changes in the vision
  • Mental health effects such as feeling anxiety, depression etc
  • Hearing changes
  • Signs of infection such as fever, sore throat
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in the skin colour

The risk of side effects increases with long-term use of Hydroxychloroquine tablets or with taking it in higher doses than prescribed by the doctor.  People who may experience these side effects or any unusual changes during medication, should consult their doctor immediately to reduce the risk of further damage.

Does Hydroxychloroquine interact with other Medicines?

Like most other medicines, hydroxychloroquine also interacts with other medications. This may change the way a medicine works and can cause harm or prevent the medication work properly to which it is actually meant for. 

Some of the interactions of hydroxychloroquine with medications for certain health conditions include:

  • Drugs prescribed for cardiac issues
  • Insulin and other diabetic medications
  • Drugs that can cause changes in the heart rhythm
  • Other malaria drugs
  • Anti-Seizure drugs
  • Immunosuppressant drugs (used to reduce the strength of body’s immune system)

Important Warnings about Hydroxychloroquine

As hydroxychloroquine can interact with various types of medications and can cause some serious side effects, this drug comes with several warnings. Some of the important warnings to be considered before taking hydroxychloroquine are listed below:  
  • Allergy: Some people may be prone to allergic reaction with the use of hydroxychloroquine, which can cause symptoms like hives, swelling, and trouble in breathing.
  • Alcohol consumption: People who drink alcohol should intimate their doctor before taking hydroxychloroquine. Alcohol misuse can alter the way hydroxychloroquine works in the body and may lead to liver damage.
  • People with skin problems: In case of psoriasis and porphyria, hydroxychloroquine can worsen the condition.
  • Pregnant Women: It is strictly recommended for pregnant women to avoid hydroxychloroquine during pregnancy, as the medication can be passed to the unborn baby through the mother’s bloodstream and can result in potential risks. 
  • Breastfeeding women: Though the effect of hydroxychloroquine on children is still unknown, women who are breastfeeding are advised not to take this medication, as small amounts of medicine may be passed through breast milk to the baby. 
  • Elder people: As side effects of hydroxychloroquine include serious risks such as vision problems, liver damage etc, older people should be very careful with the dose of this medicine. Since the medication taken is processed by the kidneys, people with impaired kidney functioning may not be able to process the drug properly. 
  Hence, it increases the risk of side effects. So, older people who are prescribed hydroxychloroquine, should get their health monitored regularly in order to identify any unusual changes at initial stages and prevent further damage.  
  • Children: Children should not be given hydroxychloroquine unless prescribed by the doctor. Long-term usage of these tablets can lead to severe damage to their vision and increases the potential risks of serious side effects. To avoid accidental swallowing, it is better to keep hydroxychloroquine tablets out of reach of children. 
   

What is the ideal dose of Hydroxychloroquine?

As we all know that the dose of a medication varies from person to person, so does a specific dose of hydroxychloroquine is not suitable for everyone. The right dose and form of this medicine is prescribed by the doctor depending on various factors that include:

  • Patient’s age
  • The condition for which he/she is being treated
  • How severe the condition is
  • Medical history and current medications for other medical conditions
  • How does the patient react to the first dose

Therefore, patients are advised to take hydroxychloroquine medication only by doctor’s prescription and the dose suggested based on their health condition.

How to avoid overdose of Hydroxychloroquine?

To avoid overdose of the hydroxychloroquine, patients should take the medicine at a prescribed time. In case of a missed dose, they should take the medicine, as soon as they remember. And, if it is near the time of the next dose, the missed dose should be skipped and take the next dose at the regular time. But, it is strictly recommended not to double the dose to catch up the missed one. 

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