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Generic Name: nicotinic acid

It is used in combination with a healthy diet to lower 'bad' cholesterol and increase 'good' cholest... more
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What is this medicine?

NIACIN (NYE a sin) is used in combination with a healthy diet to lower 'bad' cholesterol and increase 'good' cholesterol. This medicine is also used to decrease triglycerides. If triglycerides are too high, you may be at risk of developing pancreatitis. This is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the pancreas and can lead to serious health problems.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • bleeding problems
  • if you frequently drink alcohol containing drinks
  • liver disease
  • ulcers of intestine or stomach
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to niacin, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying or get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take with a low-fat meal or snack. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on the advice of your doctor or health care professional.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • aspirin
  • medicines for blood pressure, chest pain, or heart disease
  • nitroglycerin
  • nutritional supplements that contain niacin or nicotinamide
  • medicines for cholesterol or triglycerides

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. You may need regular tests to make sure your liver is working properly.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this drug affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells.

Do not drink hot drinks or alcohol at the same time you take this medicine. Hot drinks and alcohol can increase the flushing caused by this medicine, which can be uncomfortable. Alcohol also can increase possible dizziness. Taking aspirin or an NSAID like ibuprofen 30 minutes before this medicine may help reduce flushing.

This drug is only part of a total heart-health program. Your doctor or a dietician can suggest a low-cholesterol and low-fat diet to help. Avoid alcohol and smoking, and keep a proper exercise schedule.

If you are diabetic, close regulation and monitoring of your blood sugars can help your blood fat levels. This medicine may change the way your diabetic medication works, and sometimes will require that your dosages be adjusted. Check with your doctor or health care professional.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • dark urine
  • feeling faint or lightheaded, falls
  • general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite, nausea
  • palpitations
  • right upper belly pain
  • shortness of breath, wheezing
  • skin rash and itching
  • unusually weak or tired
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • stomach discomfort or bloating

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All visitors to AARP.org should seek expert medical care and consult their own physicians for any specific health issues. Read this disclaimer in its entirety.
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Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
 
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