Inflammation of joints, stiffness and pain may occur because of injuries. Your treating doctor may need to investigate to confirm if it is an autoimmune condition such as arthritis. Of the various types of joint disorders, osteoarthritis is a common condition among elderly or old people. This condition occurs when the cartilage erodes away, resulting in a direct contact between bones. Once there is no pad or cushion (in the form of a cartilage), you are more likely to experience painful joints. Many medications are available to ease pains caused by the thinning down or erosion of cartilages. Glucosamine and chondroitin are among the most widely used pain management medications. Such medications may however cause a few side effects. Knowledge of these drugs’ reactions, side effects or other discomforts can help in both avoiding as well as managing them.
Your knees may get distressed due to the incidence of osteoarthritis. This autoimmune condition can show up in the form of a few characteristic signs – such as, swelling, pain and stiffness of knees. In essence, you may find it very difficult to move. Case management of arthritis usually adopts a multipronged approach including reduction of body weight, administration of drugs and surgery (in case of acute conditions).
Glucosamine and chondroitin naturally form part of your cartilages. These form the basis for the formation of cartilage that pads your bones. They also make way for the development of new and additional cartilage. Of the two ingredients, glucosamine is a sugar-based protein. It is a key substance that enables your system to build connecting tissues and cartilage. It is commonly found in bone marrow as well as bones. It can also be sourced from fungus and shellfish. On the other hand, chondroitin is a chain formed from sugars. It is widely considered to play a critical role in yielding flexibility as well as maintain the right balance of fluids in your joints. You need to remember that these supplements are not regulated by a recognised scientific agency or a medical institution of repute; the quality of ingredients and strength may vary between one manufacturer and another. It hence becomes essential to buy these supplements from authentic manufacturers.
Side effects of glucosamine chondroitin
Glucosamine chondroitin-based supplements may not trigger any major side effects among most people. As the ingredients of this drug are naturally made in your body, it is unlikely to cause side effects or other acute discomforts. But, some people have experienced a few side effects. These may occur due to an increased level of intake of this drug or taking it for a fairly long span of time. Side effects may also be triggered when you are taking other drugs – i.e., those taken to treat already existing medical conditions. This combinatorial medicine is commonly made available as herbal product or supplement. The absence of stringent regulatory control on its manufacture has made way to reckless addition of toxic substances and fillers. These unscientific manufacturing practices are the main reasons for several undesired side effects.
Most common among such discomforts are flatulence, gas formation and difficulties to pass stools as well as diarrhea. In some cases, people have also reported abdominal problems such as indigestion, nausea or bloating. Some people have also noticed puffing-up of their eyes, loss of hair, etc. You need to know that glucosamine is extracted from shellfish. So, those who are allergic to such fish need to tell their pharmacist or treating doctor about it. There are also variants of glucosamine that are extracted from corn; you will need to check with the source of the drug upon having serious allergies to seafood-based extracts. Those living with a hepatic condition – such as, cirrhosis of liver or swelling (inflammation) of the liver, etc. – need to take additional caution. Such added caution is required as glucosamine can worsen liver conditions. The supplement is also likely to interact adversely with blood thinning drugs. So, if you are already taking heparin, warfarin or other such blood thinning meds, you need to tell your pharmacist about your current treatment plans.
Glucosamine chondroitin is capable of enhancing insulin resistance levels. Those who are living with high levels of blood sugar or with diabetes mellitus are advised to talk to their treating physician before starting to take this drug. You need to inform your physician or pharmacist about known allergies as well as hypersensitivity. People with allergies have developed symptoms such as respiratory problems (wheezing, gasping or slowdown of breathing rate), skin problems (hives), inflammation of facial or oral organs such as tongue, lips, etc.
A few people have taken the supplement for a fairly longer span – of more than 12 months; however, you need to continually check with your doctor upon noticing any discomforts or new allergies, if any. Some people may develop acute side effects such as inflammation of limbs and erratic heartbeat. In such instances, you are advised to stop taking this drug immediately. You are also advised to talk to your doctor promptly and report experiencing such symptoms. Your doctor may either change the composition or alter the strength of medications to prevent recurrence of such adverse reactions.
The abovementioned side effects do not constitute a complete list of discomforts. So, if you notice any new signs (i.e., apart from those listed above), you need to keep your medical team informed of such developments. People living in the US need to call 911 or reach out to a local poison control center on an emergency basis. Those living in Canada can either reach out to Health Canada or seek urgent medical attention at a poison control center in your province.
Good practices to ensure nil or minimal side effects of glucosamine chondroitin
In most countries in Europe, glucosamine chondroitin is recommended as a treatment for osteoarthritis. Commonly prescribed strength stands at 1000 milligrams (mg) of chondroitin and 1250 to 1350 mg of glucosamine. The dosage form is generally determined based on your body weight. Those whose body weight is less than 100 lbs, the strength is reduced to nearly 750 mg of chondroitin and about 900 mg of glucosamine.
You may observe reduction in chronic pain in four weeks (or 30 days) to seven weeks (nearly 50 days). However, if you notice no reduction in pain in 60 days, this drug is unlikely to yield desired outcomes upon continued administration or a prolonged intake. Your treating doctor may hence advise to keep a journal to monitor the levels of pain upon starting to take doses of glucosamine chondroitin. This supplement must not be administered to younger adults and children without the formal consent of a qualified medical practitioner.
Talk to your dietitian about foods and drinks that are to be avoided while taking this drug. There are a few foods (and beverages) whose consumption may need to be reduced or fully discontinued. Take a note of such sensitive food items and ensure you strictly follow your dietitian’s recommendations all through your medication plan. Also, never change the intake amount of this drug without proper medical guidance. It is a good practice to adhere to the dosage levels – as recommended by your treating physician or pharmacist. As this drug also falls under herbal aids or supplements, ensure that your medical team (i.e., doctor, pharmacist and dietitian) is qualified as well as trained to offer advice on supplements such as this. If you have somehow forgotten to take a dose of glucosamine chondroitin, never take a dual-dose. Instead, it is a good practice to skip the dose you forgot. Upon taking a double dose of this drug, you are likely to experience an overdosed condition. Characteristic symptoms of a likely overdose are fainting, passing out, respiratory troubles, increased spells of sweating, dehydration, etc. Call your treating doctor immediately and take needful medical attention. If you are living in the US, call 911 without delay.
Always remember to read all the instructions printed on the drug’s label before starting to take glucosamine chondroitin. Never try to take too much of this drug; such practices can never expedite the healing process. Instead, an excessive intake can only lead to several harmful and, at times, very acute side effects. Last but not least, never store this drug at a place which is exposed to direct sunlight or an excessive level of moisture. For example, it is not a good practice to store glucosamine chondroitin in your toilets or bathroom.
Prior medical conditions and possible side effects of glucosamine chondroitin
This medication is likely to trigger adverse reactions or harmful side effects if you are living with a few medical conditions. Tell your pharmacist or treating physician if you have respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or asthma, hypertension (a high level of systolic and diastolic pressure), blood related disorders or clotting dysfunction and cancers in your urinary tract (especially, in the prostate region).
If you are planning to undergo a surgery or a dental intervention, you need to inform your surgical or dental team about the intake of this supplement. Your surgeon / dentist will advise you to stop taking glucosamine chondroitin at least 15 days prior to the time of the surgical / dental procedure. Women who are pregnant must seek the advice of their treating doctor before starting to take this supplement. Similarly, women who are nursing a baby need to take needful clearance from their physician prior to taking this medication. Also, stay aware of a few formulations or modified extracts of glucosamine chondroitin; intake of such medications needs to be commenced only after taking the consent of your medical team.
In sum, glucosamine chondroitin is unlikely to cause major side effects as it is naturally made in your body. However, a few people have noticed some discomforts. Most commonly experienced side effects include gas formation, constipation, abdominal discomforts (indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, etc.). Those living with liver problems need to stay cautious as this drug may aggravate such medical conditions. This drug is likely to interact with blood thinning drugs like warfarin, heparin, etc. It may also alter your insulin resistance level. Those who already have diabetes need to talk to their physician before starting their medication plan. If the side effects triggered by the intake of glucosamine chondroitin are persisting for long, stop taking the drug immediately and consult your doctor on an emergency mode.