Hydroxychloroquine is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, commonly referred to as a DMARD. The prescription-only medication belongs to the antiprotozoals family of medications. Like other medications, hydroxychloroquine can cause unwanted side effects.
Physical Side Effects from Hydroxychloroquine: Eye Health
While taking hydroxychloroquine, schedule an annual eye exam. Although rare, retinal toxicity can occur, according to the American Optometric Association. Dosage and duration of your treatment with hydroxychloroquine determine whether or not you will have eye problems.
Patients weighing less than 135 pounds that take 400mg of hydroxychloroquine daily are at the highest risk. If you experience an increased sensitivity to light, difficulty distinguishing colors or your vision becomes blurred while taking this medication, speak with an ophthalmologist promptly.
Common Side Effects from Hydroxychloroquine
Common side effects that bother patients taking hydroxychloroquine include headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, itchy skin and stomach cramps, according to the Mayo Clinic. Less common side effects include dizziness, hair loss, lightening of hair color, skin discoloration under the fingernails or in the mouth and nervousness. In rare situations, hydroxychloroquine may cause seizures, mood changes, weakness, unusual bleeding/bruising, ringing in the ears, fever or a sore throat.
How to Minimize Side Effects from Hydroxychloroquine
If the side effects from your medication begin to interfere with your daily schedule, speak with your physician. He may alter the dosage or time of day when you should take the medication.
To reduce the chances for side effects, take hydroxychloroquine with a small amount of food and a full glass of water or milk. This will deter stomach upset, according to MedicineNet.com.
Why do people take hydroxychloroquine?
A physician may prescribe hydroxychloroquine as a preventative or healing medication for those exposed to malaria. The medication is also commonly used to control autoimmune disorders including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Hydroxychloroquine is also prescribed to patients with liver disease caused by protozoa.
Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
MedicineNet.com, “Medications and Drugs, Hydroxychloroquine – Oral”, MedicineNet.com
MayoClinic, “Hydroxychloroquine (oral route) “, MayoClinic.com
American Optometric Association, “Retinal Toxicity from Hydroxychloroquine”, American Optometric Association