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Supportive Care

Brand names:


Often used for:

Sickle cell disease

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What is L-glutamine?

L-glutamine is an amino acid that may help to reduce damage to red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease. It is often used with other medicines to reduce the chance of having sickle cell–related pain episodes or other problems. 

This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home.  


May be given as a dissolvable powder for liquid suspension by mouth

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Possible side effects

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Gas
  • Cough
  • Pain in legs, arms, back, or chest

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include rash, hives, itching, runny nose, fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the throat, dizziness, low blood pressure, pain in the chest, side, or back, swelling of the face or neck.  

Not all patients who take L-glutamine will have these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Report any symptoms or side effects to your doctor or pharmacist. Find more information on side effects.

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Tips for patients and families

Be sure to discuss all questions and instructions with your care provider or pharmacist. 

  • To help with constipation have your child drink plenty of fluids, exercise, and eat foods high in fiber. 
  • It is important that patients tell the care team if they are sexually active, pregnant, or breastfeeding.  

L-glutamine at home:

  • L-glutamine should be given twice a day about 12 hours apart. Your child should take it at the same time each day.
  • Dissolvable Powder: The powder may be mixed with 8 ounces (1 cup, 240 mL) of a cold or room-temperature liquid, such as water, milk, or apple juice. 
  • The powder may also be mixed into 4 ounces (½ cup,120 mL) of cold or room-temperature soft food such as pudding, applesauce, and yogurt. 
  • Do not mix the powder with hot drinks or foods.
  • The powder may not completely dissolve in the liquid or soft food.
  • After mixing, give the dose right away.
  • In case of a missed dose, give the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.    
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Finish all doses of the medicine as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist. Do not give more often or in greater amounts than recommended.