Levocarnitine (Intravenous, Oral)

Overview

Levocarnitine is used for treating and preventing carnitine deficiency. It treats and prevents this problem in people who have kidney disease and are on dialysis. It's administered to patients whose body can't properly make use of carnitine from their food, patients on dialysis because of severe kidney disease, and patients receiving treatment with certain drugs (including zidovudine and valproic acid). Lack of carnitine may cause muscle, liver, and heart problems. Your doctor can prescribe Levocarnitine for you to treat carnitine deficiency.

Carnitine is available in two varieties: Levocarnitine (L-carnitine) and D, L-carnitine (also referred to as ''vitamin BT'). Levocarnitine is the only variety of carnitine that's used to treat a severe lack of carnitine. The D, L form of carnitine doesn't assist the body to use fat and may actually interfere with Levocarnitine and cause carnitine deficiency. Certain products made with Levocarnitine have been specially approved by the FDA for medical purposes and are only available with a medical doctor's prescription.

Any medication that's approved for a certain purpose may be helpful for other medical conditions as well. While this use isn't included in the product's label, Levocarnitine can help certain patients with this medical problem:

  • Carnitine deficiency due to valproic acid treatment

Levocarnitine is sold under the brand names Carnitine and Carnitor and comes in the following forms of dosage:

  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Powder
  • Solution
  • Wafer

Conditions Treated

  • Carnitine deficiency

Type Of Medicine

  • Amino acid supplement

Side Effects

Apart from its helpful effects, using Levocarnitine may lead to some adverse effects. While not all of these effects can occur, if they happen they may require medical treatment.

Check with your physician as promptly as possible if you experience any of the effects listed below:

More common:

  • High blood pressure/hypertension

Less common:

  • Fever
  • Fast heartbeat

Rare:

  • Seizures

Some Levocarnitine side effects that normally don't require medical attention may occur. These effects may clear during treatment as you adapt to Levocarnitine. In addition, your healthcare provider may suggest ways to decrease or prevent some of the following effects. Please see your healthcare provider if you have queries about these side effects, if they're bothersome, or if they continue.

More common:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal/stomach cramps

Less common:

  • Body odor
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Depression
  • Impaired vision
  • Weakness
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Tingling sensation
  • Swelling in feet, lower legs or hands
  • Dizziness

If your healthcare provider has prescribed Levocarnitine, bear in mind that he/she has come to the conclusion that its benefit is greater than its risk. Many people using Levocarnitine don't develop severe side effects.

Seek medical assistance at once if this very serious but rare side effect happens: seizure.

This drug rarely brings on a very severe allergic reaction. However, get medical attention promptly if you develop any signs/symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as rash, troubled breathing, severe dizziness, or itching/swelling (mainly of the throat/tongue/face).

Other Levocarnitine side effects not mentioned above may also happen in some people. If you experience any other effects, make sure to see your healthcare provider.

Dosage

The dose of Levocarnitine will vary from one patient to another. Please follow the instructions on the label or those of your doctor. The following information only includes the normal doses of this medication. If your Levocarnitine dose is different, please don't adjust it unless you're instructed by your doctor.

The amount of Levocarnitine you use depends on its strength. In addition, the amounts you take per day, the interval between doses, and the duration in which you take Levocarnitine depend on the disorder for which you're taking the medication.

For Levocarnitine solution (oral dosage form):

To treat or prevent carnitine deficiency, adults and teenagers should begin with 1 gram of medicine and take it with food. If necessary, your doctor may alter the dose.

As for children, their body weight determines the dose and this must be decided by your healthcare provider. The normal initial dose is 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily, divided into smaller doses with food. Your healthcare provider may alter the dose if necessary.

For tablets (oral dosage form):

To treat or prevent carnitine deficiency, adults and teens should take 990 milligrams twice or thrice daily with meals.

As for children, their body weight determines the dose and this must be decided by your healthcare professional. The normal initial dose is 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily, divided into smaller doses with food. Your healthcare provider may alter the dose if necessary.

For injection form of dosage:

To treat or prevent carnitine deficiency, the dose for adults and kids depends on their body weight and only your doctor can determine this. The normal dose is 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily, injected into one of your veins. Your doctor may alter the dose if necessary.

To treat and prevent carnitine deficiency in patients with kidney disease who are on haemodialysis, adults and kids should take 10-20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily, after dialysis. After 3-4 weeks of treatment, the dose can be decreased depending on lab test results.

Take Levocarnitine just after or with meals. In addition, if you're taking the liquid variety, drink it slowly. Taking it this way will reduce your chances of having a stomach upset. The liquid variety may be dissolved in a drink or other fluid or taken alone.

Also, Levocarnitine is less likely to bring on adverse effects when there's a consistent amount in your blood. If you're using more than a single dose daily, take your doses at equal intervals throughout the day. You should space the doses at least 3-4 hours apart. Check with your healthcare provider if you need assistance with planning the right times to use your medicine.

Don't change the dosage forms or brands of Levocarnitine without consulting your doctor first. Different products might work differently. If your medicine looks different after having a refill, consult your pharmacist.

Don't take Levocarnitine doses too close to each other as this can make you more likely to suffer a stomach upset.

Interactions

When you're using Levocarnitine, it's vitally important to let your healthcare provider know if you're using any of the medications below. The interactions below have been picked based on their potential impact and aren't necessarily comprehensive.

It's normally not recommended to use Levocarnitine with any of the medications below, but in some cases, it may be necessary. If your healthcare provider prescribes both medications together, he/she may alter the dose or frequency of using both or one of the medications:

  • Warfarin
  • Acenocoumarol

Warnings

When deciding to take a medication, you must weigh the risks against the benefit it'll bring. You and your healthcare provider will make this decision.

Before using Levocarnitine, you should consider the following things:

Allergies - Inform your healthcare provider if you've ever had any allergic or unusual reaction to Levocarnitine or any other drugs. Also inform your healthcare provider if you've got any other kinds of allergies, for example to animals, foods, preservatives or dyes. For non-prescription products, carefully read the package or label ingredients.

Pregnancy category B, all trimesters -Animal studies haven't revealed any evidence that the medication can harm the fetus but there are not enough studies done on pregnant women. Alternatively, animal studies have revealed an unwanted effect but several studies on pregnant women haven't shown a risk to the unborn baby.

Breastfeeding - There aren't enough studies done on women to determine the risk to the infant when using Levocarnitine while breastfeeding. Make sure to weigh the possible benefit against the possible risk before taking Levocarnitine while breastfeeding.

Children - While there are no specific data comparing Levocarnitine use in kids with intake in other age sets, this nutritional supplement isn't expected to bring on problems and side effects that are different from those it causes in adults.

Seniors - While there are no specific data comparing Levocarnitine use in seniors with intake in other age sets, this nutritional supplement isn't expected to bring on problems and side effects that are different from those it causes in younger adults.

Liquid preparations of Levocarnitine may contain alcohol and/or sugar. You're advised to be cautious if you have liver disease, diabetes, or alcohol dependence. Ask your healthcare provider about using Levocarnitine safely.

Don't change the dosage forms or brands of Levocarnitine without asking your doctor first.

Different products may work in a different way. If the medicine you've just refilled looks different, be sure to consult your pharmacist.

Storage

Keep Levocarnitine at room temperature, in a sealed container, away from moisture, direct light and heat. Keep it from freezing.

After mixing and diluting Levocarnitine, you can keep the medicine for up to a day at room temperature. Get rid of any unused portion of the medication. Please don't keep medicine you no longer use or outdated medicine. Keep Levocarnitine away from your pets and children.

Don't store the unmixed vials of Levocarnitine in the bathroom. Don't pour any medication into a drain or flush it down the toilet unless your doctor tells you to do so. Properly dispose of this medicine when you no longer need it or it has expired. Consult your local garbage disposal company or pharmacist about safe disposal of unwanted medicine.

Summary

Levocarnitine is a nutritional supplement. Your doctor has prescribed it to you because you have a deficiency of carnitine. It'll give you extra energy.

Most Levocarnitine side effects tend to be less serious. They include nausea (feeling sick), diarrhea, and abdominal (tummy) discomfort.

The presence of certain medical problems can affect your use of Levocarnitine. Be sure to let your healthcare professional know if you've got any other medical disorders, especially:

  • Severe renal dysfunction Taking large doses of Levocarnitine by mouth for prolonged periods of time can cause the medication to build up in people with very serious kidney disease.
  • Seizures These occur fairly often and are quite serious in people who've had seizure episodes before.

Try to honor all of your usual appointments with your physician. This will help your doctor monitor your progress. You might need urine and blood tests on a regular basis to check the level of this medication in your blood.

If you're using Warfarin and Levocarnitine at the same time, your INR results may be affected. Let your clinic or doctor know that you're using Levocarnitine supplements before having an INR test.

If somebody has had an overdose and has severe symptoms like difficulty with breathing or passing out, call 911. Otherwise, contact your poison control agency immediately at 1-800-222-1222. If you reside in Canada, you can contact your provincial poison control agency.

Lab and/or medical tests (including blood chemistries, serum carnitine levels and vital signs) should be done periodically to check for any side effects or monitor your progress. For more information, speak to your doctor.

Don't share Levocarnitine with anybody else, even if their symptoms seem like yours.