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The Side Effects of N-Acetyl Glucosamine

author image Helen Nnama
Helen Nnama has six years of writing experience. She is a health contributor to TBR Journal, editor of fertility confidential manuals, published poet, and a greeting card writer. She has a B.S. in microbiology, an M.S. in epidemiology, and is an M.D. candidate. A former state HIV/AIDS epidemiologist and NIA fellow at Johns Hopkins, she has research experience with published work.
The Side Effects of N-Acetyl Glucosamine
Glucosamine supplements can help in providing relief from knee pain. Photo Credit: BWFolsom/iStock/Getty Images

N-Acetyl glucosamine is one of the forms of glucosamine, a chemical that is naturally found in the body, according to MedlinePlus. N-Acetyl glucosamine can come from other natural sources like outer shells of shellfishes, as well as synthetic sources. Glucosamine as a food supplement is used for osteoarthritis, knee pain, back pain, weight loss and glaucoma. Glucosamine as a chemical helps the body form other chemicals that make bones, joints and cartilages stronger. N-Acetyl glucosamine has several side effects.

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Hypersensitivity Reactions

Among the various food allergies, shellfish allergy is one of the most common, notes N-acetyl glucosamine comes from shellfish sources, which include marine animals such as clams, shrimps, lobsters, squid and octopus. The characteristics of allergic or hypersensitivity reactions to N-Acetyl glucosamine include skin rashes, itching, nasal congestion, wheezing and a tingling sensation in the mouth. During severe cases, hypersensitivity reactions also called anaphylaxis can become fatal and life threatening. During an anaphylactic reaction, air passages are blocked and the patient may experience difficulty breathing. This severe allergic reaction requires immediate treatment in the emergency room as epinephrine injections may be necessary.

Asthma Exacerbation

Patients with asthma taking N-Acetyl glucosamine may experience asthma attacks and worsening of symptoms. Asthma, which is a chronic respiratory disease that makes the air passages swell and narrow, affects breathing and oxygenation, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Asthmatic patients can potentially experience asthma exacerbation when taking N-acetyl glucosamine in adequate or excessive amounts. High concentrations of glucosamine antibodies are found in the lungs of asthmatic patients. These antibodies can possibly contribute to asthma attacks and exacerbations. Asthma can also develop as a form of hypersensitivity reactions for patients who are allergic.

Bleeding and Bruising

Bleeding and bruising are among the potential side effects of N-Acetyl glucosamine, according to MedlinePlus. Patients who have bleeding tendencies and clotting disorders should be careful and cautious when using glucosamine supplements since glucosamine possibly affects blood clotting by slowing it down. For patients taking anti-clotting and anti-platelet drugs, such as warfarin and coumadine, glucosamine should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision to prevent bleeding incidents. Short-term and long-term N-acetyl glucosamine intake is generally well tolerated by most age groups.

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