Re: HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE, please explain???
Topsy, hi. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is a first-tier med (meaning lightest) taken for lupus where there's no major organ involvement; it's also used for Sjogren's syndrome, and (I think) also for mild RA.
It doesn't suppress your immune system (good news!). Instead, it alters the pH balance (acid/base ratio) in your cells, which diminishes the production of damaging autoantibodies. It helps rashes, mouth ulcers, hair loss, joint swelling & pain, fatigue, brain fogginess, dry eyes & mouth, etc.
It's considered much safer than earlier drugs in its class. And since the stronger meds, steroids & immune suppressants, can have profound side effects, anyone "eligible" for this lighter drug is very lucky.
It can take upwards of 3-4 months to reach full effect.
Eye problems (pigment buildup on retina) are VERY rare but thought to be almost always reversible if the drug is discontinued. Most users have eye checkups every six months, just in case. My rheumie's practice (big & in huge city) has never seen a single instance of Plaquenil-induced eye damage, which really quelled my initial fears.
Dry Schirmer's test is for Sjogren's syndrome. But I think the most definitive test for Sjogren's is a lip biopsy.
As to why your dr. prescribed hydroxychloroquine: You didn't list your symptoms or cite other test results. You could just ask your doctor to tell you on what findings he based his decision.
Another thought: has your dr. tested you for the anti-Ro autoantibody? I ask because it's seen in Sjogren's, in SLE, and in SCLE (a "subset" of SLE). I was positive for anti-Ro & was Dx'ed with the SCLE "subset" of SLE; but I also had years of an SCLE-specific rash on arms/torso, so my Dx was easy (once I found a really competent rheumie, that is). Plaquenil has helped me a LOT; it's given me my life back (no exaggeration).
In addition to talking to your doctor, you could read. In the U.K., Dr. Graham Hughes is probably the top author for lupus & related conditions---and your local library probably has at least one of his titles.
I hope above gives you some initial ideas for questions for your doctor, etc. Post more when you can, OK? Best wishes & a big hug, from Vee
Last edited by VeeJ; 08-09-2008 at 04:25 AM.