What Is Quinine Used For?
Quinine is approved to treat uncomplicated (mild) malaria in people age 16 and older. It works by killing the parasite that causes this blood infection. This medication is not used to prevent malaria; it is only effective at treating this infection. Quinine is typically used in combination with other antimalarial medications.
Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin®) is a prescription medication licensed to treat uncomplicated (mild) malaria.
Malaria is a blood infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Plasmodium. It is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide, especially in developing countries. While there are over 100 species of Plasmodium, only four types of species infect humans. These four types include:
- Plasmodium falciparum
- Plasmodium vivax
- Plasmodium ovale
- Plasmodium malariae.
Most people get malaria from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Less commonly, the disease is spread through contact with infected blood. Malaria is not transmitted from person to person, like the common cold or the flu. You cannot get the disease from casual contact with infected people (see Malaria Causes for more information).
Malaria symptoms typically begin 10 to 30 days after someone becomes infected. It is categorized as uncomplicated or complicated, with symptoms ranging from mild in an uncomplicated infection to severe and life-threatening in complicated cases.
Early or uncomplicated symptoms of malaria include:
If the disease progresses, malaria may become complicated or severe. Severe malaria symptoms may include:
- Kidney failure
- Mental confusion
- Severe anemia
- Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Bleeding due to blood clotting problems
Quinine is one of several medications used to treat malaria. It is approved to treat uncomplicated (mild) malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Quinine does not prevent malaria infections; it is used to treat an infection that has already occurred. It is often used in combination with at least one other antimalarial medication.
The key to malaria treatment is starting early. With early treatment, malaria can be cured and the serious effects can be prevented. If treatment is delayed, malaria can be a severe and potentially fatal disease (see Malaria Treatment for more information).