Quinine for Malaria

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Quinine for Malaria


Generic Name

Quinine is always used with either doxycycline, tetracycline, or clindamycin for treating malaria.

You usually take quinine as a tablet (orally).

How It Works

Quinine prevents the development of malaria parasites in the blood.

To treat malaria, you can take quinine alone for 3 to 7 days, but it is more common to take quinine along with 1 of 3 other medicines (doxycycline, tetracycline, or clindamycin) for 7 days.1

Why It Is Used

Quinine plus another medicine is used for chloroquine-resistant malaria (where chloroquine is no longer effective against the malaria parasite).

How Well It Works

Quinine is effective against all species of Plasmodium.

Side Effects

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 you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common side effects of quinine include:

  • Nausea.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Headache.
  • Ringing in the ears.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Quinine given through a needle directly into a vein (intravenously, or IV) is not available in Canada, but intravenous quinidine, as a substitute, works just as well.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) 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.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Guidelines for treatment of malaria in the United States. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/resources/pdf/treatmenttable.pdf.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised June 20, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.