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L-Carnitine Side Effects

Generic Name: levocarnitine

Note: This document contains side effect information about levocarnitine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name L-Carnitine.

For the Consumer

Applies to levocarnitine: capsule, powder, solution, tablet, wafer

Along with its needed effects, levocarnitine (the active ingredient contained in L-Carnitine) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking levocarnitine:

More common

Less common

Rare

Some side effects of levocarnitine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

Less common

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • body odor
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • impaired vision
  • loss of appetite or weight
  • swelling in hands, lower legs, and feet
  • tingling sensation
  • weakness

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to levocarnitine: injectable solution, oral capsule, oral solution, oral tablet

Gastrointestinal

Very common (10% or more): Diarrhea (35%), abdominal pain (21%), vomiting (21%), nausea (12%)
Common (1% to 10%): Constipation, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal disorder, melena
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Abdominal cramps[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (37%), dizziness (18%), paresthesia (12%)
Common (1% to 10%): Hypertonia, vertigo, taste perversion
Frequency not reported: Seizures (with or without pre-existing seizure activity), increase in seizure frequency and/or severity[Ref]

Metabolic

There are reports from clinical trials of significant hypertriglyceridemia associated with high doses of levocarnitine (the active ingredient contained in L-Carnitine) (3 g/day) given to uremic dialysis patients.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Hypercalcemia (15%), hypervolemia (12%)
Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia, hyperkalemia[Ref]

Other

Very common (10% or more): Pain (35%), flu syndrome (29%), chest pain (15%), accidental injury (12%), asthenia (12%), fever (12%)
Common (1% to 10%): Peripheral edema, weight decrease, weight increase
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Body odor, International Normalized Ratio (INR) increased[Ref]

Local

Very common (10% or more): Injection site reaction (38%)[Ref]

Musculoskeletal

Musculoskeletal side effects, in chronic hemodialysis patients, for levocarnitine (the active ingredient contained in L-Carnitine) in relation to placebo therapy have included asthenia (8% to 12% vs 8%) and leg cramps (4% to 8% vs 13%). Mild myasthenia has occurred in uremic patients receiving D,L-carnitine (but not levocarnitine).[Ref]

Hematologic

There have been reports from clinical trials of significant increases in platelet aggregation associated with high doses of levocarnitine (the active ingredient contained in L-Carnitine) (3 g/day) given to hemodialysis patients.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Anemia (12%)[Ref]

Renal

Common (1% to 10%): Kidney failure (chronic hemodialysis patients)[Ref]

Endocrine

Common (1% to 10%): Parathyroid disorder[Ref]

Respiratory

Very common (10% or more): Pharyngitis (27%), cough increase (18%), dyspnea (11%), rhinitis (11%)
Common (1% to 10%): Bronchitis, sinusitis[Ref]

Dermatologic

Common (1% to 10%): Pruritus, rash[Ref]

Ocular

Common (1% to 10%): Amblyopia, eye disorder[Ref]

Genitourinary

Common (1% to 10%): Urinary tract infection[Ref]

Cardiovascular

Very common (10% or more): Hypertension (21%), hypotension (19%)
Common (1% to 10%): Atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, cardiovascular disorder, electrocardiogram abnormal, palpitations, tachycardia, vascular disorder[Ref]

Hypersensitivity

Common (1% to 10%): Allergic reaction[Ref]

Psychiatric

Common (1% to 10%): Depression, anxiety, drug dependence, insomnia[Ref]

Immunologic

Very common (10% or more): Infection (24%)[Ref]

References

1. "Product Information. LevOCARNitine (levOCARNitine (levocarnitine))." Hi-Tech Pharmacal Company Inc, Amityville, NY.

2. "Product Information. Carnitor (levocarnitine)" Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals Inc, Gaithersburg, MD.

3. "Product Information. Carnitor (levocarnitine)." Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Gaitherburg, MD.

4. Weschler A, Aviram M, Levin M, Better OS, Brook JG "High dose of L-carnitine increases platelet aggregation and plasma triglyceride levels in uremic patients on hemodialysis." Nephron 38 (1984): 120-4

5. Golper TA, Wolfson M, Ahmad S, Hirschberg R, Kurtin P, Katz LA, Nicora R, Ashbrook D, Kopple JD "Multicenter trial of L-carnitine in maintenance hemodialysis patients. I. Carnitine concentrations and lipid effects." Kidney Int 38 (1990): 904-11

6. Bellinghieri G, Savica V, Barbera CM, Ricciardi B, Egitto M, Torre F, Valentini G, D'Iddio S, Bagiella E, Mallamace A, et al "L-carnitine and platelet aggregation in uremic patients subjected to hemodialysis." Nephron 55 (1990): 28-32

7. Lacour B, Di Giulio S, Chanard J, Ciancioni C, Haguet M, Lebkiri B, Basile C, Drueke T, Assan R, Funck-Brentano JL "Carnitine improves lipid anomalies in haemodialysis patients." Lancet 2 (1980): 763-4

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.

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