Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug found to be useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like Discoid & Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (DLE & SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (including juvenile arthritis), Sjogren’s syndrome and cutaneous vasculitis.
Nausea, diarrhoea or loss of appetite
Take medication after food to minimise the side effects. Sucking hard, sugar-free candy may reduce nausea and vomiting. Inform your doctor if symptoms are severe or if you experience loss of appetite.
Headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears or muscle weakness (rare side effect)
Improves as you get used to the medication or with dose reduction. Check with your doctor if you experience muscle weakness that progresses from your legs and upwards.
Retinal problem (uncommon at usual recommended daily dose)
(Warning signs: Visual disturbances, photophobia, light flashes and streaks, missing or blacked-out areas in the visual field, difficulty in focusing)
Transient blurring of vision may occur but this usually resolves in 1 to 2 weeks.Consult your doctor immediately.
Retinal problem is usually reversible when the treatment is stopped. You will be referred to see an eye specialist for regular eye screening/monitoring.
Generalized skin rash, itching, discolouration of the skin, fingernails and insides of the mouth
Consult your doctor as these symptoms usually improves or lightens on stopping the treatment.
Blood disorder (rare side effect)
(Warning signs: Unusual bleeding or bruising, lip or mouth ulcers with more frequent “flu-like” symptoms. In some cases, there may be no warning signs)
Consult your doctor immediately.
Monitoring of the effects of your new treatment is important, particularly during the first 3 months of treatment. For your safety, you need regular blood tests for monitoring.
Inform your doctor if you have G6PD deficiency.
If you develop rashes, facial swelling or shortness of breath after taking the medication, you could be allergic to the medication. Please seek medical attention immediately.
If you have any problem with your treatment, please contact your doctor, pharmacist or rheumatology nurse clinician.
Please keep all medications out of reach of children.
© Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore 2017. All rights reserved. All information correct as of August 2017. No part of this document may be reproduced, copied, reverse compiled, adapted, distributed, commercially exploited, displayed or stored in a database, retrieval system or transmitted in any form without prior permission of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. All information and material found in this document are for purposes of information only and are not meant to substitute any advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals.
This article was last reviewed on
Sunday, April 15, 2018
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