Plaquenil is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat inflammation associated with lupus in people whose symptoms have not responded to drugs with lower risk for side effects. Plaquenil is also known by its drug name, Hydroxychloroquine. Plaquenil may be prescribed at a low dose for maintenance, or at a high dose to control acute flare-ups.
Plaquenil is a disease-modifying drug originally developed to treat malaria. Plaquenil is believed to work by interfering in communication between the cells of the immune system.
How do I take it?
You may need to see an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist) for a checkup before beginning to take Plaquenil. While taking Plaquenil, you should return to the ophthalmologist for exams every three months in order to check for side effects relating to your vision.
Plaquenil is usually taken once or twice a day. Always take Plaquenil with food. Your symptoms may begin to improve within one or two months of starting Plaquenil; however, some people do not show signs of improving until they have been taking Plaquenil for six months.
Most people do not experience side effects from taking Plaquenil. Among those who do, common side effects include nausea, stomach cramps, dizziness, headaches, and diarrhea. These side effects often decrease over time.
Plaquenil can cause serious eye problems, especially if taken at high doses or for longer than five years.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience vision changes, seizures, mood changes, pain in the arms, legs or back, fast heartbeat, worsening of skin problems, or changes in hair such as loss or color change while taking Plaquenil.
Rarely, Plaquenil can also cause allergic reactions. Get medical help immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips or tongue.
For answers to frequently asked questions about exposure to Hydrochloroquine during pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit the experts at MothertoBaby.org.