What is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

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Generic Name: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) used for?

Omega-3 acid ethyl esters, a type of fat found in fish oil, is used along with diet and exercise to help lower levels of a certain blood fat (triglyceride). It may also raise “good” cholesterol (HDL). In general, this drug is used after your blood fat levels have not been fully controlled by non-drug treatments (e.g., diet changes, exercise, decreasing alcohol intake, weight loss if overweight, controlling blood sugar if diabetic, and regulating your thyroid hormone levels).

Lowering triglycerides and increasing “good” cholesterol may help decrease the risk for strokes and heart attacks. Omega-3 acid ethyl esters are thought to work by decreasing the amount of triglyceride the body makes.

How should I take docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Take docosahexaenoic acid by mouth, usually once or twice a day with a meal or as directed by your doctor. Swallow the capsules whole. Do not crush, chew, or dissolve the capsules.

Do not substitute other omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil products (e.g., nonprescription products, vitamins, supplements) for this product without talking with your doctor first. They may not contain the same amount and type of fatty acids.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Use docosahexaenoic acid regularly to get the most benefit from it. Remember to take it at the same time(s) each day. It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Most people with high triglycerides do not feel sick.

It is very important to continue to follow your doctor’s advice about diet and exercise. It may take up to 2 months to get the full benefits of this drug.

How do I store docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Docosahexaenoic acid is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store docosahexaenoic acid in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of docosahexaenoic acid that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush docosahexaenoic acid down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Before taking omega-3-acid ethyl esters,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to omega-3-acid ethyl esters; fish, including shellfish (clams, scallops, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, crab, oyster, mussels, others); any other medications; or any of the ingredients in omega-3-acid ethyl ester capsules. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin; aspirin or aspirin-containing products; beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Normodyne), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal); clopidogrel (Plavix); diuretics (‘water pills’); estrogen-containing contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, and injections); estrogen replacement therapy. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you drink more than two glasses of alcohol each day, or if you have or have ever had diabetesor liver, thyroid, or pancreatic disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking omega-3-acid ethyl esters, call your doctor.
  • ask your doctor about the use of alcoholic beverages while you are taking omega-3-acid ethyl esters.

Is it safe to take docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Common side effects include upset stomach, burping, and strange taste in mouth.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • Chest pain;
  • Uneven heartbeats.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Back pain;
  • Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth;
  • Upset stomach, belching;
  • Mild skin rash.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Docosahexaenoic acid may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Omega-3 may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Omega-3 may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also affect blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

Omega-3 may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

Omega-3 may also interact with agents that may affect the immune system, agents that may affect the nervous system, agents that may be toxic to the liver, agents that may treat abnormal heart rhythms, agents that may treat arthritis, agents that may treat asthma, agents that may treat gout, agents that may treat heart disorders, agents that may treat retrovirus infections (HIV), antiallergic agents, antiandrogens, anticancer agents, antidepressants (SSRIs), antiestrogens, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, aspirin, bone agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, cyclosporine, dexamethasone, eye agents, hormonal agents, paclitaxel, skin agents, and stomach agents.

  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Omega-3 may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

Omega-3 may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Omega-3 may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.

Omega-3 may also interact with antiallergic agents, antiandrogens, anticancer herbs and supplements, antidepressants (SSRIs), antiestrogens, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, antipsychotics, bone agents, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, conjugated linoleic acid, evening primrose oil, fat-soluble vitamins, folate, gamma-linolenic acid, glucosamine, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that may be toxic to the liver, herbs and supplements that may treat abnormal heart rhythms, herbs and supplements that may treat arthritis, herbs and supplements that may treat asthma, herbs and supplements that may treat heart disorders, hormonal herbs and supplements, hormone replacement therapy, lycopene, medium-chain triglycerides, phosphatidylserine, phytosterols, policosanol, selenium, skin agents, stomach agents, and vitamin E

Does food or alcohol interact with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Docosahexaenoic acid may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)?

Docosahexaenoic acid may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • diabetes;
  • liver disease;
  • a heart rhythm disorder;
  • a pancreas disorder;
  • underactive thyroid.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Bipolar Disorder, Adjunct Treatment: 3.4 g DHA orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Cyclosporine Nephrotoxicity: 12 g orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Dysmenorrhea: 720 mg DHA orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Hypercholesterolemia: 4 g orallly daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Hypertension: 4 g orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Hypertriglyceridemia: 1-4 g orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Post CABG (Coronary artery bypass grafting): 4 g orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Raynaud’s Syndrome: 2.64 g DHA orally daily.

Usual Adult Dose for Rheumatoid Arthritis: 2 g DHA orally daily.

What is the dose of Docosahexaenoic Acid for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) available?

Docosahexaenoic acid is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Casule, oral: 1g

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of docosahexaenoic acid, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017