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Guidelines for Taking Niaspan, Advicor and Simcor
These products contain Niacin, which is a B vitamin. Niacin is effective in treating high cholesterol and is the best drug available to improve low good cholesterol.
Niacin commonly causes a side effect known as flushing. Persons on this medication can experience episodes where their face and upper body will redden, feel warm and itchy. While flushing can be uncomfortable and annoying, it is completely harmless. Flushing usually occurs more frequently the first two weeks after the start of the medication then becomes less frequent thereafter. You may also notice a temporary increase in flushing episode frequency after a dosage increase.
Following the recommendations listed below can minimize the severity and frequency of flushing.
Tips to reduce flushing
- Take with food. You can take your medication after a meal or a low fat snack. I recommend taking after dinner.
- Take an aspirin 325mg, or ibuprofen 200mg, 30 minutes prior to taking your medication.
- Avoid hot or spicy foods around the time you take your medication
- Avoid alcoholic beverages around the time you take your medication.
- Take your medication in the evening or at bedtime.
- Take your medication regularly. As your body becomes accustomed to niacin the frequency of flushing decreases.
Frequently Asked Questions
I already take baby aspirin, can I take more?
Doctors frequently prescribe aspirin to help prevent heart attacks. Dosages 40 mg to 2000 mg have been studied and have showed the same level of benefit regardless of dose. However at least 325 mg of aspirin is needed to reduce flushing. I usually recommend patients on an aspirin regimen take a single dose of 325mg, which is enough to cover both purposes.
I can’t take aspirin, what should I do?
Some patients can’t take aspirin due to an allergy, history of bleeding ulcers or stomach upset. Antihistamines are also effective. You can also take your medication with out aspirin you may experience more frequent flushing episodes.
Is one type of aspirin better than another?
Any aspirin-containing product will work, but enteric-coated aspirins are less effective in preventing flushing.
Besides taking medication what else can I do to help control cholesterol?
Follow a low fat diet, exercise regularly and maintain a normal weight. Quit smoking. Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Can I take this medication at other times?
These medications are more effective when taken in the evening; however, the most important key to success is taking them regularly. Discuss this with your doctor to determine what is right for you.
I’m still flushing, what next?
- Try an antihistamine instead of, or in combination with, aspirin. Benadryl 25 to 50mg, Claritin 10 mg, or Zyrtec 10mg are effective and available without a prescription. Prescription medications are also available and effective.
- Don’t miss or skip doses, this disrupts and delays your body’s ability to suppress the flushing episodes.
- If you started the medication recently-stick with it! Flushing episodes typically decrease over time as your body adjusts to the medication.
- Try taking the medication with applesauce. Pectin in the applesauce can help prevent and reduce flushing.
If I experience a flushing episode what can I do?
- Chew and swallow 2 baby aspirin with a glass of cool water. You can experience relief in as little as 5 minutes.
- Take a cool bath or shower.
- Take 50 mg of Benadryl. (May cause sedation)
- Relax and wait. Flushing is not harmful and episodes usually last about 20 minutes.
What should I do if I am having problems?
Call your doctors office and explain the problem: often a solution can be found. A minority of patients can’t tolerate these medications and a different medication needs to be prescribed.