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What are the Different Kinds of Malaria Tablets?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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There are dozens of antimalarial drugs, each with varying side effects, effectiveness, and safety concerns. These drugs are commonly used for both the treatment and prevention of malaria, a potentially deadly, mosquito-borne disease. Malarone® is a malaria tablet that contains a combination of atovaquone and proguanil, but it is expensive compared to other tablets. Quinine is generally less effective but frequently used in areas where the malaria disease has developed a resistance to other malaria tablets. Chloroquine is one of the most tested, safest, and inexpensive malaria tablets available, but it is falling out of use due to increased resistance.

Malarone® is available in both adult and child doses, with child doses being roughly one-fourth that of an adult dose. Adult doses can treat and prevent malaria, but it is not recommended for the treatment of severe malaria. Child-size doses are only used to prevent malaria and cannot be used in children under 22 pounds (10 kg). This medication is best absorbed when taken with a fatty meal, and usually must be taken once daily for three days. Malarone®’s side effects may include headaches, stomach ache, and mild insomnia.

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The malaria tablets known as quinine are not used to prevent malaria, but they are very effective at treating some types of the disease. It was the first drug to successfully to treat Plasmodium falciparum, one of the most dangerous forms of malaria. There are now malaria tablets more effective than quinine, so it is no longer the first-line defense for the disease. In addition to treating malaria in some situations, it is regularly used to treat arthritis and lupus. While it comes in tablet form, it can also be administered in intravenous (IV) form.

Chloroquine is another antimalarial medication that can be given to both children and adults, but unlike Malarone®, the same dose of chloroquine is given no matter the patient’s age. At one point, this medication was the most widely used drug to both treat and prevent malaria. Like quinine, the drug can suppress the immune system somewhat, and is therefore also used to treat some forms of arthritis and lupus. Resistance to chloroquine was slow to develop, but some strains of malaria are so resistant that the drug’s use is declining in favor of other malaria tablets. Chloroquine’s side effects can include headaches and nightmares, but itching is by far the most common side effect, especially in some races.

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ddljohn
Post 3

@SarahGen-- It's a good idea to speak to a doctor who has experience with tropical diseases before you go. I think you will get the best advice on malaria medications and dosages that way.

I've heard good things about doxycycline but it's not a good idea to decide on the malaria treatment yourself because different medications are more or less effective for different kinds of malaria. Different destinations have a different strain of malaria and the parasite might be resistant to some medications. Plus, how long you will be there for makes a difference as well. Your doctor needs to consider all these factors before prescribing you something.

bear78
Post 2

@SarahGen-- All anti-malaria medications have some side effects and not everyone responds to the same medication the same way. But I think that Malarone malaria tablets and doxycycline are better than the others. The most you will have with these two are digestive problems and maybe some dizziness. Doxycycline does increase sensitivity to sunlight though.

I know that mefloquine has serious psychotic side effects and quinine causes vivid dreams and nightmares.

SarahGen
Post 1

Which anti-malaria tablets have the least side effects? I'm going on vacation to South America and I don't want to deal with side effects, I want to enjoy my time there.

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