Side Effects of Melatonin Administered for Jet Lag

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Side effects are always a concern when it comes to any kind of medication. The act of introducing a foreign substance to the body will always have a range of effects, some of which may not be entirely desirable, and while side effects may be unavoidable, their severity and frequency are two important factors when it comes to using and administering medication.

In this article we look at the side effects and resulting risks associated with the use of melatonin in the treatment of jet lag, information that is important to making an informed decision about whether or not you want to use the drug.

Side effects of melatonin

The short term side effects of melatonin will depend on the specific health of the person concerned and the dose of melatonin applied, but in general about 8% of people receiving a standard dose of the medication for jet lag (about 5mg) will experience some sleepiness during daylight hours. While a fairly minor side effect for most of us, this is a major consideration for anyone who operates heavy machinery or is in a position where their loss of alertness can influence the safety of others.

2% of people on the 5mg dose of melatonin will report headaches, nausea, dizziness, or other sensations like giddiness and/or fuzziness. Again these are usually temporary and not a concern for most of us, but can have more serious implications for people working in jobs that demand their full attention and concentration.

More serious side effects have been observed in studies where higher doses of the drug were used. However these doses are not necessarily relevant to the use of melatonin for jet lag. In these cases abdominal pain and diarrhoea were reported alongside headaches.

In circumstances where melatonin is contraindicated more serious side effects can be observed. Contraindication means that there are circumstances which make the use of the drug inadvisable. For example, people suffering from autoimmune diseases will often experience excessive inflammation should they take melatonin. Anyone using warfarin or another blood thinner may find themselves vulnerable to excessive bleeding.

While side effects are to be expected with the use of virtually any drug, it is important to be aware of which side effects are most often a consequence of any medication you are taking. This allows you to pick up on any untoward reactions more quickly. Melatonin is no exception, and while incidences of side effects are quite low where the drug is used properly, there are circumstances where these side effects can have more serious consequences. As always, talk to your GP if you have any concerns about the side effects of melatonin.

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