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Flushing Facts during Advicor and Niaspan Therapy

Any pharmaceutical drug is characterized by its ability to cause undesirable adverse reactions in patients. Although there can be many of them, varying in number and severity form person to person, some side effects tend to occur in a greater number of people, others appear only in some patients. Consequently, side effects can be subdivided into “the most common”, “common”, and “rare”.

One of the most common side effects accompanying a therapy with medications containing niacin is flushing. According to the patients’ observations and comments, it is also said to be the most troublesome. Thus, many people would like to know some facts about flushing, as well as to discover how to minimize it.

Advicor and Niaspan are medications, which contain niacin as the active ingredient; consequently, flushing is a common problem for those who take these drugs. That is niacin – the working component of these pills - that causes this side effect. The matter is that a sudden increase in the amount of vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid or simply niacin) in the human body after taking the pills hastens the blood flow.

Flushing manifests itself through the reddening of the skin, its itching and tingling, as well the feeling of warmth in the body, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, and chills. These symptoms are usually the most pronounced in the upper part of the body. Additional symptoms may include palpitations, tachycardia, headache, edema and even fainting in rare cases.

The most intense flushing is usually experienced in a few hours upon taking such drugs as Advicor or Niaspan. It may take several hours for the feelings to fade.

It is a proven fact that the majority of patients suffer flushing at the beginning of the treatment, or if the dose of the pills is increased. The good news is that this side effect tends to subside with the lapse of time (the body, so to say, gets used to the vitamin).

However, it is possible to lessen these unpleasant symptoms even if the treatment has just begun. First of all, the pills may be taken before bedtime, thus the risk of feeling flushing will be reduced, as it will take place during the sleep. They say that another effective way to lessen this side effect is to take the pills with a low-fat snack.

It is also reasonable to avoid such things as exercising, showering or bathing, spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol containing beverages a few hours prior to taking pills with niacin. All of the mentioned activities and products increase the blood flow and dilate the vessels – that is, they work practically the same way niacin does; therefore, flushing may be aggravated.

Doctors also recommend their patents to take regular-strength aspirin or ibuprofen (if there are no contraindications) about 30 minutes before using niacin-containing pills. Many scientists also agree that the treatment should be started with the lowest possible dose of drugs with vitamin B3 in order to give body time to get used to the medicine. Gradually the dose can be increased, while a patient will experience milder symptoms of flushing.

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One more way to avoid intense flushing is to choose the medication correctly with the help of a professional health-care provider. Thus, patients who need to regulate lipid levels can be advised to take the extended-release Niaspan instead of some other drugs, since these pills were especially designed to minimize flushing. They release small doses of niacin gradually, which helps avoid a sudden raise in its levels in the blood stream.

Finally, it is worthy to mention the pills, advertised as “no-flushing”. The experts’ impression about them is that no flushing means no effect due to the extremely low doses of niacin. Thus, it seems that he who wants to improve his health has to pluck up his courage and to get ready for flushing and coping with it.


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