Uses for suramin
Suramin is used in the treatment of African sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis) and river blindness (onchocerciasis), infections caused by parasites. Suramin works by causing the parasites to lose energy, which causes their death.
Suramin may cause serious side effects. Before you begin treatment with suramin, you and your doctor should talk about the good suramin will do as well as the risks of receiving it.
Suramin is administered in the hospital only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor.
Before using suramin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For suramin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to suramin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Suramin can cause serious side effects in any patient. Therefore, it is especially important that you discuss with the child's doctor the good that suramin may do as well as the risks of receiving it.
Elderly people are especially sensitive to the effects of suramin. This may increase the chance of side effects during treatment.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of suramin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Patients with kidney or liver disease may have an increased chance of side effects
Proper use of suramin
To help clear up your infection completely, you must receive suramin on a regular schedule for the full time of treatment. It is also necessary for you to receive suramin in the hospital so your doctor can check on your condition.
The dose of suramin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of suramin. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For injection dosage form:
- For African sleeping sickness:
- Adults and children—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor.
- For river blindness:
- Adults—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For African sleeping sickness:
Precautions while using suramin
It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This is to help make sure that the infection is cleared up completely. Your doctor may also want to check for any side effects that may occur even after your treatment has ended.
Suramin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Cloudy urine
- crawling or tingling sensation of the skin
- faintness, especially after missing meals
- increased skin color
- joint pain
- loss of appetite
- numbness or weakness in arms, hands, legs, or feet
- skin rash
- stinging sensation on skin
- swelling on skin
- tenderness of the palms and the soles
- tire easily
- Changes in or loss of vision
- extreme tiredness or weakness
- increased sensitivity of eyes to light
- painful tender glands in the neck, armpits, or groin
- swelling around eyes
- ulcers or sores in mouth
- watery eyes
- Cold and clammy skin
- decreased blood pressure
- difficulty in breathing
- fever and sore throat
- fever with or without chills
- increased heartbeat
- loss of consciousness
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on skin
- red, thickened, or scaly skin
- swelling and/or tenderness in upper abdominal or stomach area
- swollen and/or painful glands
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- yellow eyes or skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Abdominal pain
- general feeling of discomfort
- metallic taste
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.