Chloroquine belongs to a group of medicines called anti-malarials. It can be taken in certain parts of the world to help prevent malaria.
Uses of Chloroquine
- It is used in the treatment of malaria (caused by a parasite – common symptoms include chills and high fever)
- Infection and pus formation in the liver due to parasitic infection (Amoebic Hepatitis and Liver Abscess)
Contraindications of Chloroquine
When should one not use Chloroquine
- Allergy to Chloroquine or any ingredients of the medicine
- Amiodarone, a medicine used to treat abnormal heart rhythms should not be used along with Chloroquine
Side effects of Chloroquine
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Skin rashes, swelling of lips, face and tongue
- Headache, feeling dizzy, unintentional muscle movements
- Hearing loss, vision problems, increased sensitivity to light
- Hair loss and changes in hair color
- Abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure
- Mood changes, depression, confusion, sleeplessness
Precautions and Warnings of Chloroquine
Can I take Chloroquine during pregnancy?
Malaria can cause a lot of problems in pregnant women and Chloroquine is known to have the potential to harm the unborn baby. Hence, avoid it in pregnancy.
Can I take Chloroquine while breastfeeding?
Tiny amount of Chloroquine secretes in breast milk; when given once weekly or for 2-3 days like in malaria, the quantity of medicine is not sufficient to harm the infant. In case of long-term treatment for conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, you should avoid Chloroquine in breastfeeding for the above reason.
Can I drive if I have consumed Chloroquine?
You may have vision problems, especially when you start treatment with Chloroquine, and you are advised not to drive in the presence of any such symptoms. You must be cautious if you are on long-term medication, even in the absence of symptoms.
Can I consume alcohol with Chloroquine?
You should avoid alcohol as it may worsen certain side effects of Chloroquine such as dizziness, heart problems and depression.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- Seizures (fits)
- A genetic disorder causing purplish skin rashes due to defect in blood formation (porphyria)
- Scaly rashes of the skin (psoriasis)
- A type of muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis)
- A genetic disorder causing increased breakdown of red blood cells (G6PD – Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency)
- Rabies vaccine or thyroid hormone reduces the effectiveness of Chloroquine
Mode of Action of Chloroquine
How Does It Work?
Chloroquine acts by killing sensitive malaria parasites at different stages of their development in our red blood cells. This medicine gets stored in the liver and hence is effective against liver parasites like Entamoeba (Amoebiasis). Chloroquine also suppresses certain components of the immune system and inflammation and are useful in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Interactions of Chloroquine
Interactions with other medicines
- Amiodarone – to treat irregular heartbeats
- Use with caution
- Praziquantel (used to treat worm infections – tapeworm, etc.)
- Digoxin (irregular heartbeats)
- Anti-seizure medications (Phenytoin, Carbamazepine)
- Cyclosporin (suppresses immune system)
- Kaolin (treats diarrhea)
- Medicines used to reduce stomach acid (Cimetidine, Omeprazole or antacids like aluminum, magnesium, etc.)
- Ciprofloxacin (antibiotic)
- Medicines for depression, thyroid or heart disease
Interactions with food items
Take Chloroquine tablets with food or immediately after a meal with a glass of water.
Dosage of Chloroquine
Accidental overdose may not be life-threatening. But if you feel any discomfort or experience symptoms such as abnormal heartbeats, feeling dizzy, or any allergic reactions, consult your doctor.
Missed a Dose
Take the missed dose as you remember. Skip the missed dose; do not take extra medicine or double dose to compensate for the missed dose. Ideally, you should have a 12-hour gap between two doses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How should I take Chloroquine?
A: A patient can take Chloroquine in parasitic infections like malaria and amoebic liver disorders and certain conditions involving the immune system. There are four different types of malaria, though only two are more common; the dosage and duration may change for each type. Hence Chloroquine has to be taken under medical supervision to avoid irregular usage. The dosage of this medicine in immune disorders such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis also differs based on the severity of the disease. Improper administration may cause unwanted effects and hence self-medication with Chloroquine is not advised.
Q: How does Chloroquine act against blood parasites and the immune system?
A: Chloroquine can penetrate the parasites present in the blood (malaria) and the liver (Amoebiasis). After entering the parasite, it stops the formation of substances that may cause harm to us and thus control the infection. In diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) due to improperly regulated immune systems, Chloroquine disrupts the signaling between immune cells. It thus reduces or suppresses the unwanted immune system activity resulting in relief of symptoms. Chloroquine acts in different diseases with different mechanisms.
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)
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