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Antimalarial medicines (normally used to prevent and treat malaria) are sometimes used in an attempt to reduce inflammation associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Antimalarial medicines may be used along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for arthritis that has not responded to NSAIDs alone. This combination is more commonly used to treat progressive polyarticular arthritis but can be used for any form of JIA.
Although some people get better with antimalarials, a large study of the effects of antimalarial treatment for JIA showed them to be no better than a placebo.1 It may take up to 16 weeks to see an effect from hydroxychloroquine. The medicine is usually discontinued if no improvement is seen after 16 weeks.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine your child takes. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with the medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has:
Call your doctor right away if your child has any blurred vision, problems seeing to read, or changes in vision. Your doctor may have you check your child's vision at least once a month using an Amsler grid, which is a chart with lines and a dot at the centre that lets you monitor changes in vision. If you or your child notices any changes in vision or changes in his or her view of the Amsler grid, call your doctor.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Some antimalarial medicines, such as hydroxychloroquine, can cause serious and permanent damage to the retina of the eye. When appropriate doses are given, this is rare. If it is found early, eye damage may be reversed and permanent damage may be prevented. So your child should have an initial ophthalmic examination before beginning antimalarial therapy and examinations if and when you or your child notices a change in vision. Your doctor may recommend visits to the ophthalmologist as often as every 3 to 12 months, depending on your child's vision and your doctor's level of concern about eye disease from JIA.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. If your child takes medicine as your doctor suggests, it will improve your child's health and may prevent future problems. If your child doesn't take the medicines properly, his or her health (and perhaps life) may be at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Last Revised: April 13, 2012
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.