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What Are the Uses of Artemether and Lumefantrine?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Artemether and lumefantrine are two medications that are often used together in a combination drug. These drugs are antimalarials, which mean that they combat some types of malaria infections. They cannot prevent the illness, but rather they are used to kill malaria parasites already present. Patients who have an infected liver may need to take another medication in addition to artemether and lumefantrine.

It is essential for patients to take each dosage properly and on schedule for maximum efficacy and to prevent a relapse. Typically, patients will take two doses daily for three days for a total of six doses. On the first day, the patient must take his first dose in the morning and another one eight hours afterward. For the next two days, he should take one pill in the morning and another in the evening.

Each dosage must be taken with milk or food, such as pudding or broth, so that the medication can work properly. Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and other grapefruit products must be avoided while undergoing treatment. Those who vomit within two hours of a dose should take another dose and call a doctor as soon as possible. If the patient is a child who has trouble swallowing pills, a pill may be crushed and mixed with a small amount of water immediately prior to taking the dose.

Some side effects may occur with the use of artemether and lumefantrine for malaria, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Dizziness, weakness, and muscle or joint pain have been reported. Some people may have a headache, a cough, or problems sleeping.

Artemether and lumefantrine may cause more serious side effects, which require a doctor's immediate attention. Patients may sometimes experience problems breathing or swallowing, swelling of the facial region, or problems speaking. Hoarseness, fainting, and a rapid or abnormal heartbeat may occur. Other serious side effects can include chest pain, severe dizziness, and hives.

Before using artemether and lumefantrine to treat malaria, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, as well as any other medicines or supplements they are taking. As of 2011, it is unknown whether these antimalarials may pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Women who are pregnant should discuss the possible risks with their physicians and avoid using the drugs whenever possible. They may be contraindicated for use by those with certain heart problems, a recent heart attack, or low levels of magnesium or potassium. Other drugs may interact with these medicines, including antifungals, certain antidepressants, and antibiotics.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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