Niaspan Side Effects – Is Niaspan safe to use for cholesterol?

There are a wide variety of Niaspan side effects you should be aware of before taking this prescription drug.

It's important to know what they are so that you can see the connection between using Niaspan and unwanted symptoms you're having.

Once you know this information, you're in a much better position to avoid or minimize the risks and adverse effects.

What is Prescription Niaspan and Why Take It?

Niaspan is a long-acting or extended release version of niacin (nicotinic acid), also known as Vitamin B3.

The most common use is for the treatment of high cholesterol levels. Specifically, to lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol.

The prescription should only be considered after other ways to lower cholesterol naturally haven't worked for the patient.

This is done in an attempt to minimize the build up of arterial plaque and help reduce the risk for a heart attack or help prevent a second coronary event.

It's also been shown to lower other fats in the blood like high triglyceride levels as well.

What are the Niaspan side effects?

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that the dangers of using this drug are similar to the side effects of using immediate release niacin in large doses.

Common side effects of using Niaspan include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • itching
  • increased cough
  • flushing (warmth, redness, itching, and/or tingling sensation of the skin)

If you are sitting or lying down and experience flushing, do not get up or stand up quickly. You want to take your time and raise up slowly. (This is especially true if you already experiencing dizziness or are taking blood pressure medication.)

Drinking hot beverages within 30 minutes of taking any form of niacin may worsen the symptoms of flushing.

Some suggest taking aspirin 1/2 an hour before taking Niaspan to lessen the severity of flushing. Others aren't so enthused about adding a second drug (yes, aspirin is a drug) to help offset the reaction caused by another drug.

Additional Niaspan Safety Precautions

Your risk of side effects are greatly increased when taking this medication with other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

You'll want to take special notice of any unusual or unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness. This could be a warning sign of a very serious kidney condition.

Those who are advised against taking Niaspan include anyone with liver problems, stomach ulcers, or a serious bleeding problem.

Do you see the "irony" of recommending this medication to treat high cholesterol, but not for anyone with a liver problem?

That's because your liver is directly responsible for the regulation of your cholesterol levels and over 75% of your body's cholesterol is produced by your liver.

So if you truly have a cholesterol problem, your liver is already experiencing extra burden and stress.

Niaspan should be used with caution and only under close supervision if you:

  • have diabetes
  • have kidney problems
  • have thyroid problems
  • have a history of gout
  • drink large amounts of alcohol

Switching from the regular (immediate-release) version of niacin to Niaspan can cause severe liver damage. At a minimum, you should never make this switch without first consulting your physician.

You will want to avoid using it if you're pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Many drugs can easily pass into breast milk, so be sure and inform your doctor if you are nursing to avoid any potential harmful effects to a nursing baby.

Always take the doctor recommended dose and swallow the tablets whole.

Never under any circumstances should you crush, break, or chew a Niaspan tablet. (This is true for any extended release drug.)

Be sure to ask your doctor plenty of questions and get them answered to your satisfaction so that you fully understand the serious nature of all Niaspan side effects before using.

Related article you might like: Niacin Side Effects – The Truth on Niacin Benefits for Cholesterol


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