Chloroquine

Chloroquine is a drug used to prevent Malaria or treat its symptoms. Malaria is often caused by mosquito bites, and Chloroquine is common in countries where infection happens frequently. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Chloroquine phosphate or Aralen is drug designed to protect against and treat Malaria. This substance is available either in branded or generic form. In some cases, Chloroquine can be used to manage the infections caused by amoebae.  

What is Chloroquine? 

Chloroquine is a drug used to prevent Malaria or treat its symptoms. Malaria is often caused by mosquito bites, and Chloroquine is common in countries where infection happens frequently. Malaria parasites enter the body through mosquito bites and live in tissues like red blood cells or liver skin cells. In some cases, you will be required to take additional medication alongside Chloroquine to kill the parasites of malaria living in other tissues throughout the body.  A combination of Chloroquine and Primaquine is sometimes required to completely cure Malaria and prevent the return of the infection. Chloroquine is part of a class of drugs called Anti-malarial, and it was approved in the most recent update to the US Centres for Disease Control guidelines on travel recommendations for the prevention and treatment of Malaria.  Chloroquine is also effective at treating infections caused by a different kind of parasite known as amoebae.  

When is Chloroquine Used? 

It is essential to protect yourself against mosquito bites and the risk of malaria whenever possible. You can do this by using the appropriate insect repellants in countries where Malaria is common and wearing clothes that cover most of the body.  While no drug treatment is completely effective at stopping malaria infections from spreading, Chloroquine can sometimes be used to reduce your risk of getting an infection. However, you will need to seek medical attention if you begin to develop symptoms while using this drug. Additionally, Chloroquine can be used to treat the symptoms of Malaria, though it may require the use of additional drugs to fully clear the body of the infection

How do you Use Chloroquine? 

Chloroquine is available in tablet and liquid form.  Usually, doctors advise taking this medication by mouth, with food to reduce your risk of stomach upset. Your doctor will provide full directions on how to manage your dose, including how frequently you should take Chloroquine, and what amount you should be taking. Your doctor will also dictate the length of treatment based on the details of your medical condition.  If you're using Chloroquine to prevent malaria, the recommended strategy is to take the tablet once a week on the same day each week - as recommended by your doctor. The medication will be available to take a couple of weeks before you enter the area at risk of infection. You will also need to take the drug every week while you're in the area, and for a number of weeks after leaving the location.  

It's essential to choose the time that you take Chloroquine carefully. You will need to take it at least four hours before or after taking a drug for diarrhea control or taking antacids. These drugs can bind with Chloroquine and stop your body from absorbing the medications.  It is crucial to take Chloroquine exactly as your doctor has prescribed you to do so. Do not take less or more of this medicine than your doctor tells you, and do not stop taking it before your treatment is complete. Skipping or changing a dose without approval from your doctor can cause your treatment or attempt to prevent malaria to be ineffective.  

What Dosages are Available? 

The dose of Chloroquine that you are given will depend on why you're using it. If you're using Chloroquine to prevent Malaria, the most common dosage is 300mg-500mg of chloroquine once a week. Take the tablets after a meal and start taking them at least one week before entering the Malaria-infected area. Make sure you continue to take the pills for four weeks after leaving the Malaria area.  

Children may be given a lower dosage based on their age and weight. Make sure that you follow the instructions provided by your doctor carefully.  Your doctor may also combine your dose of Chloroquine with Proguanil tablets to completely remove Malaria from your body if you're taking the drug for treatment purposes. Together, the two tablets can help to remove the Malaria parasite from the various tissues of your body. Remember that the dose you are given will depend on your exposure to the Malaria parasite, and even your weight. Your doctor will suggest the treatment that is right for you, and you must follow his or her instructions exactly.  

What are the Side Effects of Chloroquine? 

Chloroquine is an effective method of preventing and treating Malaria infection. However, like many medications, it's possible to experience side effects when taking Chloroquine. It's important to tell your doctor straight away if you notice anything strange, including: 

  • Hair bleaching or hair loss 
  • Mood or mental changes, including confusion or personality changes 
  • Hearing changes, such as hearing loss or ringing in the ears 
  • Darkening of tissue or skin inside the mouth 
  • Worsening of conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis 
  • Signs of infection such as high fever and severe chills 
  • Symptoms of liver disease such as yellowing skin or eyes, abdominal pain, or dark urine 
  • Bruising or bleeding that happens easily 
  • Muscle weakness and uncontrolled movements 

Chloroquine can cause low blood sugar. If you notice symptoms such as sudden sweating, hunger, shaking, blurred vision, or tingling feet and hands, make sure you tell your doctor immediately. If you have diabetes, it's essential to check your blood sugars as regularly as possible. Your doctor might adjust your medication for diabetes while you're taking Chloroquine.  

Serious side effects from Chloroquine are rare, but seek emergency help straight away if you notice any significant changes to your condition including: 

  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Seizures or fainting  
  • Severe dizziness 
  • Eye/Vision problems - the risk of these problems is more common when taking this medication over long periods of times. Watch out for light flashes, difficulty reading and complete blindness 
  • Severe allergic reaction - if your tongue, mouth, throat or any other part of your body begins swelling, or you notice trouble breathing and a strange rash, contact an emergency health service immediately.  

If you notice any other changes your condition not listed above, seek the help of a health professional quickly.  

When Shouldn't You Use Chloroquine? 

Chloroquine is not the right treatment for everyone. Before taking this drug, tell your pharmacist or doctor if you are allergic to it, or you have any other allergies. It's also important to inform your doctor of your complete medical history, especially: 

  • Any enzyme problems such as G6PD  
  • Vision or eye problems 
  • Hearing problems 
  • Kidney or liver disease 
  • Psoriasis 
  • Blood disorders like porphyria 
  • History of seizures 

Chloroquine can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. make sure you protect yourself by limiting your exposure to the sun and sunlamps. Avoid going outside without protective clothing and sunscreen. Remember that Chloroquine can cause conditions that affect the rhythm of your heart. Prolonged heart issues can be fatal, so make sure that you contact your doctor if you notice dizziness, fainting, or other heart conditions. Your risk of an irregular heartbeat may be increased if you have medical conditions that change your blood pressure, or you have suffered from diseases like heart failure in the past.  

Low levels of magnesium or potassium in the blood can also increase your risk of heart conditions. This risk may increase further if you use diuretics regularly, or you have problems with diarrhea or vomiting.  Chloroquine can affect your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, you will need to discuss this with your doctor before using your new medication.; Your doctor will usually ask you to check your blood sugar regularly and share your results with them. You may also need to adjust your medication, diet and exercise routines. During pregnancy, Chloroquine should not be used unless necessary. It may harm unborn babies. You should also note that Chloroquine can pass into breast milk. Currently, the effects of Chloroquine on a nursing infant are unknown.  

Does Chloroquine Interact with Any Other Medications? 

Chloroquine can interact with a range of other medications, changing how they work, or reducing the way that the Chloroquine drug works. It's important to discuss all of the drugs that you might be taking with your doctor before taking Chloroquine. Remember to tell your doctor about the medicines that have been prescribed to you, and other medications like cold and flu tablets, supplements or herbal remedies too.  

Some of the products that interact with Chloroquine include: 

  • Mefloquine 
  • Pincillamine 
  • Sulfadozine 
  • Acetaminophen 
  • Isoniazid 
  • Praziquantel  
  • Amiodarone 
  • Dofetilide 

Chloroquine should not be used by people also taking Cimetidine - the drug commonly used to treat an abundance of stomach acid. Antacids and drugs that affect the formula of your stomach acids can change the way that Chloroquine is absorbed. Make sure you talk to your doctor about any medicines you are taking for stomach acid in advance. 

Where Can you Buy Chloroquine? 

It's possible to buy Chloroquine either online or from an approved pharmacy over the counter. Most of the time, the drug will come with a brand attached to it and may come in a combined packet with Proguanil tablets depending on the prescription your doctor suggests.  

Chloroquine tablets are available in their generic form.  

Can You Get Chloroquine without a Prescription?  It is possible to buy Chloroquine over-the-counter, so you shouldn't need a prescription to buy it. However, it's often a good idea to speak to your doctor about the dosage you should be taking before you buy Chloroquine. You will also need to make sure that the drug will not interact negatively with any other medication that you're taking. If you're planning a trip and you're concerned about Malaria, book an appointment with your doctor before buying Chloroquine.

Sources 

Boots Company PLC, Nottingham, Accessed on the 6th of May 2019, Chloroquine and Proguanil Anti-Malarial tablets. Retrieved from: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/8281/pil  

BNF Nice, Accessed on the 6th of May 2019, Chloroquine, Retrieved from https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/chloroquine.html  

Hans D. Northdurft, and Kevin C. Kain, 2017, The Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual (Fifth Edition), Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/chloroquine  

Nicholas J. White, 2014, Manson's Tropical Infectious Diseases, Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/chloroquine