Frequently asked questions for Hydroxychloroquine
Q. Is Hydroxychloroquine effective against novel coronavirus infection?Hydroxychloroquine is currently under study in various clinical trials (research studies in human beings) for the prevention of novel coronavirus infection and treatment of patients with COVID-19 (the illness caused by the novel coronavirus). This medicine has shown some activity against the novel coronavirus in laboratory studies (in vitro studies). However, further evidence is required to conclude that Hydroxychloroquine is effective against the novel coronavirus.
Q. Can Hydroxychloroquine be used for the prophylaxis of the novel coronavirus infection?The national task force for COVID-19 (constituted by ICMR) has recommended the use of Hydroxychloroquine for prevention of novel coronavirus infection ONLY in certain high-risk populations (ie people at high risk of exposure to the virus) or emergency situations. It can be used for prophylaxis in case of asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.
Q. Do we need to maintain a stock of Hydroxychloroquine?No, we do not have to maintain a stock of Hydroxychloroquine. If you suspect that you have contracted the novel coronavirus infection, consult a doctor immediately and strictly follow their advice. Do not self-administer Hydroxychloroquine. Keep in mind that this medicine needs to be taken only if prescribed by a registered medical practitioner.
Q. What is the recommended dose for preventing coronavirus?Hydroxychloroquine is only recommended for preventing coronavirus infection in certain high-risk groups or emergency situations. It should strictly be taken as per the dose, frequency, and duration prescribed by your doctor.
Q. How to take the Hydroxychloroquine?Hydroxychloroquine comes as a tablet to be taken by mouth. It should be taken with food or a glass of milk to prevent an upset stomach and nausea. Take it as per dose and duration suggested by the doctor and finish the complete course. Hydroxychloroquine should be used regularly as advised by your doctor. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor first. If you have also taking antacids, then take Hydroxychloroquine at least 4hours before or after these products.
Q. What to do if someone becomes symptomatic or shows symptoms of novel coronavirus while taking Hydroxychloroquine?Any person who has been prescribed Hydroxychloroquine and develops symptoms of novel coronavirus infection (such as high fever, dry cough, tiredness, difficulty in breathing) while taking Hydroxychloroquine should immediately consult their doctor. Your doctor will advise if you need to get tested for the novel coronavirus and if you need to be isolated. Follow all the instructions from your doctor.
Q. How long does it take for Hydroxychloroquine to start working?HCQS takes some time to show its effects. It may even take a few weeks or months before you see an improvement in your symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. However, it is important that you be patient and keep taking this medication regularly. Your doctor may prescribe some additional medications in the interim for temporary relief from the symptoms.
Q. Does Hydroxychloroquine have any effect on vision?Yes, though uncommon, HCQS can affect vision especially if taken at higher doses or for a period of time (> 5 years). The symptoms include reading or seeing difficulties (words, letters, or parts of objects missing), sensitivity to light, blurred distant vision, and seeing light flashes or streaks. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may carry out various eye tests and then decide if Hydroxychloroquine needs to be discontinued. You may also be advised to get certain eye tests done periodically if you have been prescribed HCQS.
Q. Do I need to get any tests done during Hydroxychloroquine treatment?An eye test is required before your treatment with HCQS starts and should be repeated every 12 months. Also, your doctor may advise you to get your blood counts (CBC) and liver function test (LFT) checked regularly. Your doctor may discontinue HCQS if any abnormality is detected.
Q. Is Hydroxychloroquine an opioid, a painkiller, a steroid, or an anti-inflammatory medicine? How does it work?Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial medicine with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. It is neither a steroid nor an opioid nor a painkiller. In malaria, Hydroxychloroquine destroys the harmful parasite which causes the illness. Whereas in rheumatoid arthritis, it reduces inflammation of the joints and provides relief.
Q. Can I take ibuprofen while taking Hydroxychloroquine?Yes, you may take ibuprofen and HCQS together. They do not have any significant interactions and do not interfere with the working of each other.
Q. What can I expect if I stop taking Hydroxychloroquine?If you stop taking HCQS without consulting your doctor, your illness may get worse. Therefore, do not stop taking HCQS without consulting your doctor, even if you start feeling better.
Q. Do I need to be careful with Hydroxychloroquine if I am a diabetic?Yes, you need to be careful while using HCQS if you have diabetes. HCQS can lower your blood glucose levels to dangerous levels so much so that you may even lose consciousness(severe hypoglycemia). Keep a regular check on your blood glucose levels and if it starts to fall, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may alter the doses of your anti-diabetic medications as per your blood glucose levels.
Q. I am on antacids since a long time, which is necessary for me. Can I still take Hydroxychloroquine?Yes, you can take HCQS, provided you keep a gap of at least 4 hours between HCQS and antacid. If this gap is not maintained, then the antacid may interfere with the absorption or working of HCQS. As a result, you may not experience the full benefits of HCQS.