I can attest that being a pharmacist definitely has it perks and problems. One perk is the amount of knowledge I have when it comes to both prescription and nonprescription drugs. One MAJOR problem is I know TOO much to the point where I am a physician’s worst patient. While I’ll agree to testing and examinations recommended, I am not so willing to take pills. Imagine my resistance to my physician’s plea for me to not just consider, but to actually take ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills for my 2 week stay in Honduras.
What are ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills you ask? An example would be Doxycycline vs Malarone. Doxycycline, an antibiotic, has several indications, ie, treating acne, skin infections, lyme disease in addition to preventing malaria. Malarone is used to treat AND prevent malaria, thus it’s a ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pill.
I’ve taken Doxycycline in the past for a previous trip to Honduras, but I was only there briefly. The instructions were for me to take it at least 2 days before arrival and continue for the next 28 days after departure, but like I said earlier, I don’t like taking pills. Right before I left the country, I stopped taking them. Plus the side effects, ie, sun burn, yeast infections, nausea/vomiting, etc were not what I wanted to deal with while away.
Staying for 2 weeks in a CDC-warned malaria area of Honduras was a bit more challenging, though. I had to look at the facts and totally ignore my feelings.
Fact one: Mosquitoes love me.
Fact two: I hate mosquitoes
Fact three: Mosquitoes love me despite my hate for them and this increased my chance of acquiring malaria.
I had a choice to make- prevent malaria or possibly contract malaria. Facing reality and reading about victims of this disease, I decided, albeit reluctantly, to wave the white flag to my physician and fill her prescription of (my choice) Malarone. I figured that the inconvenience of taking a tablet at the same time daily with possible minor side effects here and there was definitely worth not hearing my doctor say ‘you have malaria,’ which can be fatal.
Have you taken anti-malarials in the past? Why or why not?
Are you planning a trip out of the U.S.? Unsure if you will be entering a high risk malarial country? Need help deciding which prophylaxis would be appropriate for you? Check out the links below so that you and your health care provider can make an informed decision about your health and well-being concerning this matter.