How Does Ivermectin Tablet Work
Ivermectin comes under the avermectin class of medicines which have potent anthelmintic and insecticidal properties. Upon intake, the drug interferes with the parasite’s nervous and muscular functioning. Ivermectin binds to the glutamate-gated channels and opens them, this permits the entry of chloride ions and causes hyperpolarization in the parasite. The hyperpolarization leads to paralysis and eventually kills the parasitic worm. Another killing method attributed to Ivermectin is by starving the parasite.
Uses of Ivermectin Tablets
Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, that is, it cures the infections caused by nematodes (or roundworms). It is commonly used in veterinary medicine against ascariasis and heartworm. In humans, Ivermectin can be used to treat-
- Onchocerciasis (aka river blindness)
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Head lice
- Cutaneous larva migrans
You should take Ivermectin as per your physician’s advice because it’s based on the type of infection and your weight and age. Ivermectin 6 mg and 12 mg are the two variants and your doctor will prescribe you the suitable one depending on the above factors. The tablet is to be swallowed with one full glass of water on an empty stomach. In case you’re unable to swallow it whole, you may cut it into 2. However, general doses for some infections are being mentioned below.
- Adult dose for Onchocerciasis- 3 mg once (weight: 15-25 kg); 6 mg one time (weight: 26-44 kg); 9 mg once (weight: 45-64 kg); 12 mg once (weight: 65-84 kg); 0.15 mg/kg (weight: >85 kg).
- Adult dose for Strongyloidiasis- 3 mg once (weight: 15-24 kg); 6 mg one time (weight: 25-35 kg); 9 mg once (weight: 36-50 kg); 12 mg once (weight: 51-65 kg); 15 mg once (weight: 66-79 kg); 0.2 mg/kg (weight: >80 kg).
- Adult dose for Filariasis- 0.2 mg/kg body weight one time
- Adult dose for Ascariasis- 0.2 mg/kg body weight one time
- Adult dose for Scabies- 0.2 mg/kg body weight one time (repeat after 2 weeks)
- Adult dose for Cutaneous Larva Migrans- 0.2 mg/kg body weight one time (for 1 or 2 days)
- Adult dose for Trichuriasis- 0.2 mg/kg body weight once daily (3 days)
- Adult dose for parasite infection of eyes and skin- 0.15mg/ kg one time (follow up with your doctor for additional dose)
Children weighing more than 15 kgs can take Ivermectin as recommended for adults. Children weighing less than 15 kgs should not take this drug as its safety hasn’t been proven.
Ivermectin is usually a single-dose medication so, there are rare chances of you missing a dose. However, if you are to take 2-3 doses of it according to the schedule prescribed by your doctor and you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If the next scheduled dose is around the corner, skip the missed dose and only take the former. You must not take 2 doses at once.
A missed dose may lower the effectiveness of the drug and cause your infection to persist.
Although it is difficult to overdose on ivermectin because of its short course, if you happen to have overdosed on it, contact your doctor. You may face mild to serious side effects, depending on how much excess of Ivermectin you’ve taken. Some symptoms include skin rashes, headache, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and seizures.
Let your doctor know about any health condition you are suffering from or have suffered from in the past.
- If you are allergic to Ivermectin or any of the tablet’s inactive ingredients
- If you have a history of liver-related problems (it may lead to high levels of the drug in your body and increase the risk of side effects)
- If you experience or have had seizures
- If you have been diagnosed with HIV or any other condition that lowers your immunity (one dose of Ivermectin may not suffice for you)
- If you suffer from asthma
- If you suffer from hepatic ailments
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding (research in animals has shown negative effects on the fetus and there is a lack of proper research in humans to prove it safe for you)
Side effects of Ivermectin tablets
Ivermectin can cause a serious allergic reaction. Symptoms include skin rash, swollen tongue and/or throat, and difficulty in breathing. Other than these, some other common side effects are-
- Tiredness or exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Joint pain
- Tender lymph nodes
- Eye problems
Mild symptoms will go away in a few days on their own. However, certain severe side effects (maybe the result of an overdose) include-
- Neck and back pain
- Redness and swelling in eyes
- Changes in vision
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to control urination and bowel movements
- Dark urine
- Extreme fatigue
In case you feel any of these, immediately call the emergency helpline or contact your doctor
Interaction With Other Drugs
Certain substances (medicines, herbs, and vitamin supplements) may alter the way Ivermectin works. Letting your doctors know about the substances you consume often or regularly is important to avoid such interactions.
- Blood-thinning drugs like warfarin
- Barbiturates like phenobarbital and butalbital
- Benzodiazepines like clonazepam and lorazepam
- Sodium oxybate (GHB)
- Valproic acid
The above-mentioned list doesn’t contain all the drug interactions, so tell your doctor about any other medicine you might be taking.
Interaction With Alcohol
Consumption of alcohol (and marijuana) is known to increase the drug level in your blood plasma. Therefore, it may make you dizzy. Do not drive while in this condition. Try to limit alcohol consumption.
Interaction With Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit or its juice may hinder Ivermectin’s action so avoid consuming it while on this medication.
Store the Ivermectin tablets in their original packaging at room temperature, that is, about 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Do not expose them to direct light or moisture as it may damage the drug. Dispose of the expired tablets or empty packages properly. Keep it out of reach of the children.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is Ivermectin? What does it treat?
Ans- Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that kills worms that cause infection by either starving or paralyzing them. It is useful in the treatment of parasitic infection of the eyes, skin, and intestines. Some conditions that it treats are- scabies, head lice, Strongyloidiasis, Onchocerciasis, Filariasis, Ascariasis, and Cutaneous Larva Migrans.
Q2. Can I buy Ivermectin over the counter?
Ans- No, because it is a prescription medicine. We insist you do not self-medicate as the dosage has to be strictly recommended by a doctor. An overdose may cause severe side effects like seizures, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, and coma.
Q3. Is Ivermectin safe?
Ans- It is safe as long as you take it as per your physician’s prescription. Taking more of it will cause serious side effects.
Q4. Can I take Ivermectin as a prophylactic or to treat COVID-19?
Ans- Although certain doctors are recommending Ivermectin for these purposes, FDA has not yet approved of it. So, do not consume Ivermectin for COVID-19.
Q5. How much does Ivermectin cost?
Ans- The price of Ivermectin will vary depending on the concentration and brand (generic Ivermectin is cheaper than branded one).