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This article was edited by Sam Bourgi. Show comments. Share Tweet Comment. Over the long term hydroxychloroquine can reduce pain, swelling and joint stiffness. If you have lupus, it may also improve the rash. It may be as long as 12 weeks before you notice the benefits. Hydroxychloroquine is often taken in combination with other drugs such as methotrexate.
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Before starting on hydroxychloroquine your doctor may take a blood test to check that your liver and kidneys are working normally, but you won't need any regular blood tests during the treatment. Your doctor will ask you about any problems with your eyesight and may suggest you have a vision test. Hydroxychloroquine won't usually be prescribed if you have maculopathy, problems with the central part of the retina in the eye. It causes joint pain and inflammation.
Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment. Lupus SLE is an autoimmune disease causing your immune system to attack your body's own tissues - causing inflammation. Learn causes, symptoms and treatments. Your doctor will advise you about the correct dose.
Usually you will start on a full dose of — mg daily, and later your doctor may reduce this. When your condition is very well controlled you may be advised to take hydroxychloroquine only 2—3 times per week.
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It may be 12 weeks or longer before you notice any benefit. Because it's a long-term treatment it's important to keep taking hydroxychloroquine unless you have severe side effects:.
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There's a small risk that hydroxychloroquine can damage a part of the inside of the eye called the retina. And this increases with long-term use and higher dosage. Your doctor will advise you on a safe dose to take according to your weight, and you will need to have regular monitoring of your eyes. This monitoring of your eyes may be arranged at a hospital clinic when you start the drug and then again once a year in a hospital when you have been taking the drug for more than five years. Otherwise, you should have a check up with an optician once a year and tell them that you're taking hydroxychloroquine.
If you develop any other new symptoms or there's anything else that concerns you after starting hydroxychloroquine, you should tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse specialist as soon as possible. Hydroxychloroquine is commonly used alongside other disease-modifying drugs including methotrexate — especially for rheumatoid arthritis. However, some drugs can interact with hydroxychloroquine. Indigestion remedies for example, antacids including some over-the-counter preparations can stop hydroxychloroquine being absorbed.
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It's recommended you wait at least four hours after taking hydroxychloroquine before you take an indigestion remedy. Discuss any new medications with your doctor before starting them, and always mention you're on hydroxychloroquine if you're treated by anyone other than your usual healthcare team.
You can have vaccinations, including live vaccines such as yellow fever and shingles, while you're on hydroxychloroquine. Even though hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug, don't assume it will protect you if you're travelling to an area where there's a risk of malaria. Always check with a healthcare professional what precautions you need to take against malaria.
Methotrexate is a DMARD used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, vasculitis and psoriatic arthritis. Learn the risks and side-effects.
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