Quinine does not treat severe malaria and should not be used to prevent malaria. Quinine has been used to relieve leg cramps in some cases, although this is not an FDA-approved usage. Improper use of this medicine, or use without the guidance of a doctor, might result in significant adverse effects or death. These risks are especially high for people who take quinine after they have eaten within two hours of taking it.
Taking quinine without prescription only adds to the risk of side effects because your body will still react like it is infected with malaria. Also, quinine is a powerful drug that can be harmful if used improperly. Problems may include dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, flushing, depression, anxiety, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), changes in vision, confusion, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, and more.
People who take quinine to prevent malaria have an increased risk of hearing loss if they receive long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to protect themselves from mosquito bites. However, this risk may be reduced if you take the medication at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep under the net.
There is no evidence that taking quinine daily for several months or year-round could be beneficial for someone at risk of heart disease or stroke. Nor is there any proof that quinine treatment reduces the number of deaths due to coronary heart disease or stroke.
Quinine is used to treat uncomplicated malaria, a parasitic illness. Malaria parasites normally enter the body through the bite of a mosquito. Malaria is prevalent throughout Africa, South America, and Southern Asia. In these areas, malaria causes between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths every year.
In addition to preventing malaria, quinine can be used to treat other diseases caused by a parasite. These include chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, intestinal problems (including diarrhea), some forms of dementia (such as Alzheimer's disease), and even multiple sclerosis.
Although quinine is safe when taken by humans, it can cause serious side effects if given in large doses or long term. Some people may experience light-headedness, dizziness, headache, irritability, depression, anxiety, confusion, trouble sleeping, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, flushing, rash, or urinary tract symptoms (pain, burning, urgency). These side effects should go away after the drug is stopped but may not occur until many years later. Large studies have shown that there is no increased risk of cancer among people who use quinine for several months or longer.
The benefits of quinine outweigh the risks for most patients.
The sale of all non-approved brands of quinine in the United States has been prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration. Do not buy quinine via the Internet or from dealers outside the United States. The medication can also be used to treat symptoms of chronic heart failure.
Malaria is a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. In people, malaria causes high temperatures, severe headaches, rapid breathing, and diarrhea. Complications include severe anemia, brain damage, and death. There are five main species of mosquitoes that transmit malaria to people: Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles funestus, Anopheles arabiensis, Anopheles quadriannulatus, and Anopheles melas. Of these, only A. gambiae and A. funestus can carry both human and gametocyte (male germ cell) stages of the parasite. Most infections are due to A. gambiae; however, A. funestus may cause more severe disease because it is less likely to develop resistance to antimalarial drugs.
In America, most cases of malaria are due to exposure to the bites of imported mosquitoes. The most common symptom of malaria is fever. Other symptoms include headache, chills, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, confusion, and seizure.
Quinine should not be used by persons who have low blood sugar, irregular heart rhythms, renal illness, or liver disease, according to medical specialists. However, it is very unlikely that you would need to use quinine if you have any of these conditions. Rather, you would need to seek medical attention if you are diagnosed with malaria.
The American College of Physicians recommends that persons who experience flu-like symptoms and think they may have malaria seek confirmation from a doctor and begin treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis has been made. The college also states that quinine should not be used in place of doxycycline for pregnant women or children under 18 years old because there are more effective treatments available. Long-term use of quinine is associated with gray skin coloration and decreased bone density; therefore, it is important that persons taking quinine take calcium supplements and avoid tanning beds.
According to the Mayo Clinic, quinine is generally safe for most people to use when treating malaria. However, the medication can cause serious side effects including vision problems, diarrhea, and feeling faint. If you have any of these symptoms immediately after taking quinine, stop taking it and call a doctor.
Your liver produces enzymes that help it break down chemicals that would otherwise harm you.