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Hydroxychloroquine functions by impairing the parasite’s ability to digest hemoglobin and by inhibiting autoimmune responses. Though the exact mechanism of action in autoimmune diseases is not fully understood, it is believed to involve suppression of the immune system. This dual functionality makes it effective in treating both malaria (caused by parasites) and autoimmune conditions.



Hydroxychloroquine, commonly known by the brand name Plaquenil among others, is a medication primarily used to prevent and treat certain types of malaria. Additionally, it is used for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and porphyria cutanea tarda. Hydroxychloroquine belongs to a class of medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It works by modifying the underlying disease process rather than simply treating symptoms.

Additional information


Hydroxychloroquine is indicated for:

● Prevention and treatment of malaria.
● Management and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
● Treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus.
● Treatment of porphyria cutanea tarda.

Patients are advised to:

● Take hydroxychloroquine with food or milk to minimize stomach upset.
● Adhere to prescribed dosages since the risk of toxicity increases with prolonged use and higher dosages.
● Undergo regular ophthalmologic examinations, as their healthcare provider recommends, to monitor for potential visual side effects.


● Hydroxychloroquine can cause a prolongation of the QT interval of the heart, making it vital to inform your healthcare provider of any cardiac history.
● Anemia and electrolyte imbalances may occur, warranting routine blood testing.
● Patients should be cautious about potential hypersensitivity reactions, especially those with a history of medication allergies.

Side Effects

● Stomach pain or cramps
● Diarrhea
● Headache
● Dizziness

Serious side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

● Vision changes or damage, including retinopathy which can lead to blindness
● Severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
● Cardiac effects, such as cardiomyopathy and QT prolongation
● Severe skin rashes


● Store hydroxychloroquine at room temperature, between 68°F and 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
● Keep the medication in a light-resistant container, away from moisture and out of reach of children and pets.

Special Precautions

Before taking hydroxychloroquine, inform your healthcare provider if you:

● Have any pre-existing eye conditions.
● Suffer from glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.
● Are taking other medications that might interact with hydroxychloroquine, such as other DMARDs or medications known to prolong the QT interval.
● Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, as hydroxychloroquine crosses the placenta and is excreted in breast milk.


Symptoms of hydroxychloroquine overdose can be severe, including vision loss, convulsions, severe hypotension, cardiac arrest, and respiratory failure. In the case of suspected overdose, immediate medical attention is required. Contact emergency services or proceed to the nearest emergency room with information about the dosage and timing of the overdose.


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