President Donald Trump surprised political commentators on both sides of the aisle on Monday when he revealed during a press event that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent the onset of the coronavirus. The Commander in Chief explained that he had been taking the antimalarial drug for about a week and a half after discussing with his White House physician.
“All I can tell you is so far I seem to be OK,” President Trump said, adding “I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy.” Mr. Trump explained that his decision was based on data that many health care workers were also taking the drug before adding “What do you have to lose?” President Trump has long been a proponent of hydroxychloroquine having watched and promoted cable news segments touting its efficacy. Fox News’ Dr. Marc Siegel told the story of how his father rebounded from COVID-19 as a result of taking hydroxychloroquine, and a Michigan State Senator told a similar story.
But hydroxychloroquine, like nearly everything else in this politically charged environment, is not without significant controversy. A recent study of the drug at a VA hospital found that the drug led to more deaths and no benefits. The Food and Drug Administration warned that the use of hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart problems for coronavirus patients. Shortly after President Trump revealed his hydroxy regiment, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto pushed back hard by saying “this will kill you.“
So like many other vaccines and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, the science is still unsettled by medical testing that is still ongoing. But because hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug, there are accepted side effects from taking it, which you can see below:
The most common side effects for hydroxychloroquine present in the gastrointestinal tract for users, and according to the American College of Rheumatology, nausea is chief among the symptoms from which hydroxychloroquine takers can sometimes suffer.
Another common side effect for hydroxychloroquine takers according to the American College of Rheumatology? Nausea’s partner “vomiting” is another symptom from which hydroxychloroquine takers can sometimes suffer.
And the unholy trinity of gastrointestinal issues that can come with taking hydroxychloroquine? Diarrhea is yet another symptom from which hydroxychloroquine takers can sometimes suffer.
According to Everyday Health, mental side effects are less common than gastrointestinal, but those that take hydroxychloroquine can feel dizzy, loss of balance and coordination, room spinning, or other symptoms similar to vertigo.
“Anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation” are symptoms for patients that take hydroxychloroquine, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine.
This is a tricky one because shortness of breath is also a symptom of the coronavirus. Respiratory issues that come from hydroxychloroquine may not be as common as gastrointestinal problems, but trouble breathing is a definite thing.
“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be at the origin of severe psychosis-like psychiatric side effects,” claims a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.