What Is The Difference In Taking Niaspan And Taking Regular Niacin?

Question

Asked by Donna Hopper

What Is The Difference In Taking Niaspan And Taking Regular Niacin?

Answer

Donna Hopper,

Thanks for your question.

Niaspan, a prescription medication is a long acting form of niacin. This long acting drug can be taken once a day and has less side effects than the shorter acting, over the counter niacin. The major side effect is flushing and sometimes itching of the face and arms. Regular niacin is usually taken multiple times during the day and therefore, these side effects can be encountered multiple times a day. Niaspan, on the other hand is recommended for bedtime use in hopes that the patient will be asleep when these symptoms occur, and most patients sleep through the symptoms. Other side effects of Niaspan are changes in liver function blood studies, which is usually reversible with cessation of the medication. Also, caution and close medical follow-up are recommended for patients combining niacin and statin medications, as severe muscle damage has been reported with this combination.

Doctors sometimes recommend the use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or Benadryl 20 - 30 minutes before taking Niaspan. The anti-inflammatory action of these medications can abort the side effect of flushing in many patients.

Be sure to discuss the above issues with your doctors. Before taking any medication, even over the counter drugs, be sure to inform you doctor and get his input.

Best wishes.

Martin Cane, M.D.