Classification and external resources
ICD-10 T37.2
ICD-9 386.9, 961.4
DiseasesDB 11124

Cinchonism or quinism is a pathological condition in humans caused by an overdose of quinine or its natural source, cinchona bark. Quinine is medically used to treat malaria. In much smaller amounts, quinine is an ingredient of tonic drinks, acting as a bittering agent. Cinchonism can occur from therapeutic doses of quinine, either from one or several large doses, or from small doses over a longer period of time, not from the amounts used in tonic drinks, but possibly from ingestion of tonic water as a beverage over a lengthy period of time. Quinidine (Class 1A anti-arrhythmic) can also cause cinchonism symptoms to develop with as little as a single dose.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of mild cinchonism (which may occur from standard therapeutic doses of quinine) include flushed and sweaty skin, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, impaired hearing, confusion, reversible high-frequency hearing loss, headache, abdominal pain, rashes, drug-induced lichenoid reaction (lichenoid photosensitivity),[1] vertigo, dizziness, dysphoria, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Large doses of quinine may lead to severe symptoms of cinchonism: skin rashes, deafness (reversible), somnolence, diminished visual acuity or blindness, anaphylactic shock, and disturbances in cardiac rhythm or conduction, death from cardiotoxicity. Quinine may also trigger a rare form of hypersensitivity reaction in malaria patients termed blackwater fever that results in massive hemolysis, hemoglobinemia, hemoglobinuria, and renal failure.[citation needed]

Patients treated with quinine may also suffer from hypoglycemia (especially if administered intravenously) and hypotension (low blood pressure).

Most symptoms of cinchonism (except in severe cases) are reversible and disappear once quinine is withdrawn.

Quinine, like chloroquine, inactivates enzymes in the lysosomes of cells, and has an anti-inflammatory effect, hence its use in rheumatoid arthritis. However switching off these enzymes can also cause abnormal accumulation of glycogen and phospholipids in lysosomes, causing a toxic myopathy. It is possible this is the root cause of cinchonism.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cinchonism — Cin cho*nism, n. [From {Cinchona}.] (Med.) A condition produced by the excessive or long continued use of quinine, and marked by deafness, roaring in the ears, vertigo, etc. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cinchonism — [sin′kə niz΄əm, siŋ′kə niz΄əm] n. a pathological condition resulting from a reaction to or an excessive use of cinchona bark or any of its derivatives, as quinine: it is characterized by headache, ringing in the ears, deafness, etc …   English World dictionary

  • cinchonism — noun Date: 1857 a disorder due to excessive or prolonged use of cinchona or its alkaloids and marked by temporary deafness, ringing in the ears, headache, dizziness, and rash …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cinchonism — /sing keuh niz euhm, sin /, n. Pathol. poisoning by any of the cinchona alkaloids, characterized by headache, deafness, and ringing in the ears. [1855 60; CINCHON(A) + ISM] * * * …   Universalium

  • cinchonism — Poisoning by cinchona, quinine, or quinidine; characterized by tinnitus, headache, deafness, and occasionally, anaphylactoid shock. SYN: quininism. * * * cin·cho·nism siŋ kə .niz əm, sin chə …   Medical dictionary

  • cinchonism — n. poisoning caused by any of the cinchona alkaloids …   English contemporary dictionary

  • cinchonism — cin·cho·nism …   English syllables

  • cinchonism — n. poisoning caused by an overdose of cinchona or the alkaloids quinine, quinidine, or cinchonine derived from it. The symptoms are commonly ringing noises in the ears, dizziness, blurring of vision (and sometimes complete blindness), rashes,… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • cinchonism — /ˈsɪŋkənɪzəm/ (say singkuhnizuhm) noun poisoning from cinchona or its alkaloids …  

  • cinchonism — ˈsiŋkəˌnizəm, ˈsin noun ( s) Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary cinchon (from New Latin Cinchona) + ism : a condition either produced by excessive or long continued use of or activated by sensitivity t …   Useful english dictionary

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