Quinine sulphate is a medicine which has a wide range of the properties, and thus can be used as antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic, but it is most frequently used in the treatment of very serious cases of malaria. It can also be used in treating arthritis, lupus and leg cramps. It is usually prescribed, but it is also available over-the-counter, though in small quantities and usually in a form of tonic water.
Since it has been used for centuries in the treatment of malaria, it has proved to be more than efficient in that, because higher doses of quinine sulphate permanently destroy malaria parasites. Many other medicines have been discovered later, and many of them are also efficient, but this one is still being used in very severe cases of this disease. Problem with this medicine is the fact that it may cause very serious side effects, which is why it has to be used carefully, and under the supervision of a health care professional. The reason why it has still been used, despite the seriousness of the side effects, is the percentage of the malaria cases which have a fatal outcome, because in comparison to that number, the possible side effects are considered to be worth risking.
When speaking of quinine sulphate, a patient should be aware of the fact that there are practically no mild side effects, or those which are less serious. Fever, diarrhea or constipation, delirium, anemia, asthma, hepatitis and even kidney damage are very commonly reported side effects of this medicine. In some cases the patients even experienced hallucinations. Also, it is expected that this drug will affect heart rhythm, and that it will cause blood clotting or bleeding. This is why cardiac monitoring is highly recommended during the treatment, as well as monitoring of the level of glucose in blood and the concentration of electrolyte when quinine sulphate is given by injection or orally. Extra special attention is required when this medicine is injected, because permanent paralysis is one of the consequences of injecting it into a nerve.
Due to all these possible and very likely side effects, the use of quinine sulphate has been restricted and limited to the treatment of cases of malaria, despite the fact that it can be helpful in successful treatment of several other conditions as well. Aware of the seriousness of the side effects, it has been decided that only life-threatening conditions are worth giving this drug a chance.