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What is Niaspan (Niacin Extended Release) prescribed for?

Niaspan is a medication used with a proper diet and exercise program to help lower “bad” cholesterol and fats and raise “good” cholesterol in the blood. Generally, this drug is used after non-drug treatments that have been unsuccessful at lowering one's cholesterol. Niacin, the active ingredient within Niaspan, is known as a vitamin B-3, one of the B-complex vitamins. And it may be used with or without other medications.

Lowering “bad” cholesterol and raising “good” cholesterol helps prevent strokes and heart attacks. Lowering fats may also help in reducing the chances of pancreas problems if you are at risk.

In addition to changes in your diet, your doctor may suggest other lifestyle changes that may improve the effectiveness of this medication. These changes may include exercising, losing weight, and quitting smoking.

This medication is to be taken by mouth with a low in fat meal, or snack. As directed to you by your doctor. Do not take Niaspan on an empty stomach, doing so increase the risk of side effects, such as flushing and a upset stomach.

Do not crush or chew on the extended release tablets. Doing so may break them and then release all of the medication at once, which will increase your chances of any side effects. Swallow the tablet whole or split the tablet without crushing or chewing.

Remember the dosage is based on your medical condition and your response to the treatment.

If you are taking other medications to control your cholesterol, be sure to take Niaspan  at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take the other medications.


Before taking this medication, it is best to advise your doctor if you are allergic to Niacin Extended Release; or to any other medications or allergies in general. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems.

Before taking this medication, it is for the best to inform your doctor of your Medical history. Especially if have ever had any of the following; very low blood pressure, alcohol use, bleeding problems (such as low platelets), diabetes, gallbladder disease, glaucoma, gout, heart disease (such as recent heart attack, unstable angina), kidney disease, liver disease/increase in liver enzymes, untreated mineral imbalance (low phosphate levels), history of stomach/intestinal ulcers, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

This medication may rarely make your blood sugar rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. If you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst/urination. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.

Side Effects

Some of these side effects may occur when taking this medication; they are as follows; Flushing of the face and neck along with warmth, headache, itching, burning, sweating, chills, or tingling may occur within 2-4 hours of taking this medication. Flushing may persist for a few hours after use. These effects should improve or go away as your body adjusts to the medication. Dizziness, stomach upset, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. However, if these symptoms do persist or worsen, it is best then to speak with your doctor.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: severe dizziness/fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, severe headache (migraine), unusual joint pain, swelling of legs/arms, vision problems, severe stomach/abdominal pain, black stools, easy bruising/bleeding, unexplained muscle pain/tenderness/weakness, persistent nausea/vomiting, signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine), dark urine, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, yellowing eyes/skin.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.


What happens if I suddenly stop taking this medication?

There may be a relapse in symptoms as well as side effects. You should speak to your doctor before stopping taking this medication.


 What is the best dosage to take?

The diagnosis with your doctor will be able to determine the best dosage for your treatment. Work with your doctor closely for dosage and dosing schedules.


 What happens if I miss a dose?

You should take the missed dose as soon as you realize you have forgotten. If the forgotten dose is closer to your next scheduled dose, take the next scheduled dose to avoid overlapping in the dose.


 What is the best way to store this medication?

This medication is stored at room temperature and should be kept away from children and pets. Do not throw away this medication in the wastebasket. If you are uncertain how to dispose of this medication, speak with your pharmacist for help in safely disposing of this medication.

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