Our body needs natural lubricants for smoother functioning. One such substance – present naturally in your body – is hyaluronic acid. It plays a key role in turning body fluids more viscous. Hyaluronic acid is a fluid that fills the space between joints; this fluid helps decrease friction caused during movement of joints and muscles. It is also found in the liquids of your eyes. It pays to know the characteristics as well as side effects of this lubricating drug.
Hyaluronic acid is widely seen in many tissues of your body. It serves as a key item in cartilages, which are elastic-structured pads to safeguard the edges of bones. Hyaluronic acid forms a coating surrounding the cells that help make the cartilages. It also plays a crucial role in repair of skin tissues.
Of its many functions, it is believed to influence your body’s responses to a wound or an injury. It essentially helps the healing process by influencing the flow of blood towards an injury or a damaged muscle. Your body makes this substance through a natural process. However, its traces are more pronounced in your joints and eyes. Hyaluronic acid used in drugs is made either with the support of bacterial activity in closely monitored lab settings or is sourced from the combs of roosters.
Possible uses of hyaluronic acid
Products containing this acid are widely administered while performing eye surgeries. Its key function is to preserve the structural viscosity as well as elasticity of your eyes’ tissues. Thus, hyaluronic acid safeguards the eye from a likely collapse while an intra-ocular surgery is performed. The various types of intra-ocular surgeries needing its use include repair of wounds in eyes, correction of retinal detachment, transplantation of cornea as well as removal of cataracts. Eye surgeons depend on hyaluronic acid based drugs as a substitute for the naturally-made fluids in your eye.
Hyaluronic acid is also administered to treat oral problems such as mouth ulcers or sores. In cases of oral inflammation, it works as a cleanser as well as a rinsing agent. It has the approval of US-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of autoimmune conditions of the knee – especially, osteoarthritis. Recent studies done on hyaluronic acid (with a higher molecular density and weight) have proven a possible link between its dosage and improvement of several autoimmune medical conditions. However, such relief is not seen among all patients who took a shot of hyaluronic acid.
Among its other uses, hyaluronic acid is administered in the treatment of dry eyes as well as for treating dermatitis (showing up as scaly or dry skin). Its ability to repair the epidermal tissues makes it a widely used ingredient in skincare medications. A few dermatological studies indicate this acid’s capacity (in its injectable form) to decrease wrinkles on your face. Its anti-wrinkling property is seen to last for a period of upto 12 months.
Medical studies are working on strengthening the evidences of hyaluronic acid’s properties to treat pains in shoulder, sores developing on feet of people living with acute episodes of diabetes, rupture of joints or bones among people with deficient amounts of selenium in their body and vaginal problems of women post-menopause (a thinned-down tissue in the vaginal region is more vulnerable to risks of hot flashes, itchiness, etc.). You may need to remember that additional evidences are required for the efficacy of hyaluronic acid in treating most of these aforesaid medical conditions.
In sum, its usage runs across various applications – a few salient ones include aging of skin, infections in the urinary tract, pain in vagina, disorders in joints, etc. In almost all these applications, hyaluronic acid serves as a tissue repairing agent as well as a lubricant to smoothen friction between bones and their corresponding cartilages.
Side effects of hyaluronic acid
This drug is considered safe if you strictly adhere to its directions of dosage. However, as it may cause a few allergies or side effects, you may fist need to go for a patch of this medication before starting to use it regularly. The types of allergic reactions or side effects depend on the mode of dosage – i.e., oral intake, an injection, a topical application, etc., as well as your age and medical condition. While administered as a shot, the drug may cause mild levels of soreness and discoloration at the site of injection.
If you are experiencing pains in joints, your treating doctor is likely to give you a shot of this drug. The common side effects of taking a shot of hyaluronic acid are inflammation, itchiness, pain, etc. Since your system makes this substance on its own, it is unlikely to trigger any major reactions or side effects. Upon applying it onto your eyes, you may experience a raise in ocular pressure levels. However, such discomforts are short term in nature. In a matter of 2 to 3 days, your eye pressure levels may come back to a normal level.
As a topical application, hyaluronic acid may cause a few allergies. But, these are mild and short term in nature. If you have a few skin conditions like say, scleroderma – then, topical application of hyaluronic acid can harden the surface of your skin. The drug may also turn ulcers on the skin to become worse. It hence becomes important to keep your dermatologist aware of such skin conditions prior to starting to apply this drug.
The intensity of side effects also depends on the dosages of hyaluronic acid. For instance, in the treatment offered to autoimmune conditions such as arthritis (especially osteoarthritis), it is administered for upto 90 days, at dosage levels not exceeding 80 mg. In case of the drug’s usage in your eyes, solutions with upto 0.3% of this acid can be used for a maximum of 7 times per day. During the treatment of oral ulcers or sores, drugs containing hyaluronic acid are diluted with prescribed amount of water. Once diluted, it is safe to be used as an oral rinse or a mouth wash. Many aged people may be prescribed with an anti-aging treatment for wrinkles developing on the skin. Products made with cacao extracts, oils extracted from very rare breeds of berries and hyaluronic acid may be used for upto 90 days through topical application on a daily basis. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient in several anti-aging as well as cosmetic brands. However, the side effects it may cause may change from one individual to another.
Pregnancy or nursing a baby and the use of hyaluronic acid
It is generally considered as “possibly-safe” to have a shot of hyaluronic acid while you are pregnant. But, if you are taking the drug either as a topical application or orally, its safety level is not fully evidenced. Hence it is advised to avoid its application (topically) or consuming it orally while you are pregnant. Similarly, if you are nursing (breastfeeding) a baby, this drug is labelled “possibly-safe”. This is labelled so because medical studies have not ascertained the effects of this drug on the baby or how it may influence the characteristics of your breast milk. Also, detailed information on how safe oral administration or topical application of hyaluronic acid onto nursing mothers is not yet fully available. So, if you are nursing a baby, it is highly recommended to avoid using this drug.
In sum, hyaluronic acid is a natural substance which helps lubricate your joints and eyes. In your eyes, it helps maintain the moisture levels and prevents drying of eyes. The substance reduces the rate at which your skin ages. Also, it is used widely in the treatment of age-triggered, autoimmune conditions such as arthritis – especially, osteoarthritis. Common side effects of this drug include swelling, itchiness, pain, etc. Since your body naturally produces this substance, it does not cause major side effects or allergic reactions. While using it in your eyes, you may witness an increase in pressure levels of eyes. However, these signs are very short term in nature. If the effects however persist for long, you need to consult your treating doctor for needful medical attention.