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Lariam - any bad experiences?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Lariam - any bad experiences?

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1. Posted by EDAngeli (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

Hello people!

Am off to South America next week and have been prescribed the anti malarial, LARIAM (methloquine). Have read up about the side effects and they sound particularly nasty...bad dreams, dizzyness and apparently in the worst cases seizures and paranoid feelings of persecution leading to suicidal tendencies! Have been given conflicting information from doctors, some saying that its a really horrible drug to take and another saying such side effects are extremely rare and the positives outweigh the negatives with this drug.
Was just wondering if anyone has used it and what their experiences were of it?
Have looked into other antimalarials to take but apparently my other option is MALARONE but that is extremely expensive, and I just couldnt afford it since I'm going for a few months.

So yeah any experiences of taking LARIAM that you could share with me would be much appreciated!

Emily x

2. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 9y

Hi Emily!

I have moved this thread to the CA/SA forum as you will probably get more replies. Also, in what countries of SA will you be traveling? That can make a difference in the type of anti-malarial that will be effective. Doctors like to prescribe Larium when someone travels to several countries, but something like doxycycline or chloroquine may be just as useful instead.

Several members have taken Larium with little or no side effects. Others have experienced nightmares or very odd dreams. I have not found any threads mentioning someone experiencing hallucinations, but it does happen. Some of the newer members may have had this problem but not posted.

I can tell you that many members, who have been to SA, will say you don't need to use prophylactic measures. That will have to be your decision. I hope you get some responses. ;)

3. Posted by EDAngeli (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

Cheers Isadora,

I'm travelling to Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
Also do you know if anti malarials are available over the counter in S.A and if they are cheaper than in Europe? If so I could just wait till I get there to get some.

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 9y

Looking at the CDC website, it confirmed why Larium was prescribed. Brazil and Bolivia are part of the tropical zone while Argentina is temporate. Chloroquine is the only drug recommended for Argentina and it is the only one not recommended for Brazil and Boliva. So, a bit of a "Catch 22" there...

Generally, chloroquine is not prescribed for areas where chloroquine-resistent malaria is thriving - mainly in tropical climates. In more temporate zones, such as Argentina, chloroquine is sufficient as most areas are of no risk.

Personally (and just personally), I would choose doxycycline as my drug of choice for all three countries. Looking at several different research materials, doxycycline is effective with chloroquine-resistent strains and just as effective against those that are chloroquine-sensitive. I have found nothing to show that any particular strain is resistent to doxycycline.

One of the issues with doxycycline - it is part of the tetracycline family of drugs. Be sure to use sunscreen as the cyclines can cause an increase sensitivity to the sun - ie: you will burn more quickly if unprotected. It has also been shown that long-term use of doxycycline does not interefere with other antibiotics, if you should need them during your travels. If you are using oral contraceptives, doxycycline can cause a decrease in their effectiveness and additional protection should be used.

I know that chloroquine can be purchased OTC in several countries. I do not know if the same holds true for doxycycline.

Here are the source links for the CDC - you can see which areas are at risk and decide if they are part of your travel plans or not.

Brazil & Bolivia

5. Posted by meeg (Budding Member 44 posts) 9y

Hi all,
My 2 cents worth...the side effects you are hearing about are not quite "extremely rare" but are more likely if you have a recent history of psychiatric illness, including depression () Things like dizziness and nausea are common but will get better with continuing treatment. There is also a small risk that you will break into a gigantic rash, all your blood cells will rupture and you will DIE...but that one is extremely rare! Bear in mind also that Lariam hangs around in your body for weeks after you take it, and so will any side effects - happy thought
My advice is go with the doxycycline if you can POSSIBLY get away with it; and I would probably take my chances with the Lariam rather than come down with malaria in some random corner of Bolivia.

6. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 9y

With so many alternatives available I would not take LARIUM ever again. The advantage it had for myself and my wife was convenience.

We got married May 2003 and honeymooned in Kenya. As a result we were advised to take a malaria course.

So LARIUM seemed the best choice.

I completely forgot my pills when we left.
Luckily my wife had hers so we shared - ie. halve dose but hey ho, we were married and you share, right?

Anyway, we both had odd dreams and paranoia was pretty high.

However, I would also stress that half way into our honeymoon there was a terrorist alert and Kenya was on the highest alert status and the embassay had told everyone that they suspected there was going to be an incident in the area we were.

Obviously this did not help but I can't but feel the LARIUM did not help matters.

Hope all goes well for you whatever you decide. However, if you are chosing LARIUM for the sake of convenience I would think again. As my wife said, you get used to taking the pill every day, it's not exactly a big issue.

Enjoy your travels and let us know what you opt for in the end.

7. Posted by Taffski (Travel Guru 182 posts) 9y

Hi Em,

am in South America now and we´ve got Larium.

We´re not taking them until we hit the jungle good and proper (i.e. in Equador and in Bolovia)
Most other places you won´t need to bother... i.e. Iguazu etc.

I´d suggest doing what we did and take larium for two weeks (i.e. two tablets) when you´re home and see how you are.... then if it´s bad... go and buy something else.. i.e. Malarone.

That´s what we did and neither of us suffered any side affects at all.... remember... it´s like a placebo in chemical tests.... most of the time the delusions, paranoia etc. are brought on exactly for the reasons you have read you might get them !!!!

And also... one last thing... chemical companies like to cover their arses when it comes to lawsuits... so if in doubt, they cover every possible side affect so no one can sue them in a few years time!

also... and most importantly... cost !!! Larium is cheap in the UK with a prescription... and also... it´s one tablet a week not seven (i.e. seven times the cost for a weeks tablets!!!)

hope this helps

8. Posted by -Tilda- (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y


We travelled In South America in 2003 and also went to Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil among others. We took Lariam for quite a while and neither of us had any side affects. Althought we always made sure to take the pills at a certain time of a day and after a meal. We bought Lariam from Chile and at least there it was quite cheap and quite easily available from the drug store.

9. Posted by Darren7 (Budding Member 63 posts) 9y

Larium seems to be the cheapest, followed by Doxy and then Malarone. I was in Kenya with a group of 12 in august, most of which took Doxy - only one of them had side effects, mostly just sentivity to the sun.

I didnt want to take any chances at all, and Malarone was recommended, but expensive. first time in a malaria-prone country, so was worried, hence why we didnt mind paying extra.

Couple of friends took Larium on their trip to Kenya/Somalia before. They told me they had dreams they were playing poker with the wild animals. and one guy had halucinations during the day, that he could SPEAK TO LIONS. as soon as i heard that, i opted away from Larium lol

10. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi EdAngeli,

I havent ever taken malaria medication myself. But after seeing how Larium affected a friend I was travelling with in Brazil, I wouldnt touch it. As has been pointed out already, it can affect people differently, but this girl was reeeeeally sick with it. She took it about a week before heading off on a boat down the Amazon

I will have to take malaria medication for Asia and I'm NOT looking forward to it. I've been speaking with a GP who strongly recommended doxycyline over Larium.

What are your opinions about taking malaria medication continuously for a period of 3-4 months?