Chantix (Varenicline) is a partial agonist used as an aid for smoking cessation. It acts by helping the user cope with the withdrawal symptoms and also reducing the satisfaction that the user gets from nicotine by influencing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), found in the central nervous system of humans.
Although it has been approved by FDA as a smoking cessation aid, yet just like most other drugs out there, Varenicline has certain side effects which are recognized by the FDA itself. Some people might experience more side effects than others. Likewise, some side effects are momentary and don’t pose any serious threats while others might be severe enough to necessitate immediate medical help.
Why Side Effects Occur?
There may or may not be an apparent reason for the side effects of Chantix to appear. The biggest reason of side effects from Chantix is usually an existing physical condition the user has. The ingredients of the drug can worsen the condition or result in other physical issues. FDA recommends taking one tablet of 0.5 mg for the first three days, followed by two 0.5 mg tablets for the next 4 days, and then 1 mg tablet twice a day for the rest of the period your treatment continues (which is usually 12 weeks). The other major cause of Chantix side effects is taking a higher dose or taking it for longer than the recommended length of time.
When taking Chantix, it’s recommended not to drink alcoholic drinks or at least minimize your consumption, because these two usually don’t get along fine. Likewise, if you are taking any other medication regularly, Varenicline can have a chemical reaction and cause adverse effects.
Are These Really Chantix Side Effects?
Whether you try to quit smoking with Chantix, any other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), or without any aid, there are always certain side effects because of the withdrawal caused by a sudden cut in the regular supply of nicotine. Therefore, sometimes these side effects can be confused with side effects of Chantix. You may suffer depression, trouble sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and frustration when you stop taking nicotine, but the same effects are also attributed to Chantix. So, at times it can be difficult to tell the actual cause behind these side effects.
Common Side Effects of Chantix:
The most commonly observed side effects of Chantix include nausea, vomiting, gas, constipation, weakness, indigestion, sleep disturbance or even insomnia, dry mouth, weakness, headaches, stomach pain, feeling sad or empty, restlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in things you normally enjoy, depression, aggression, frustration, irregular heartbeat, and unusual dreams.
Some of these side effects may persist for up to several months, even when you stop taking Chantix.
Uncommon Side Effects of Chantix:
The rare side effects include seizures, behavioral changes, difficulty in breathing, hyperventilation, tightness in the chest, suicidal thoughts, fever, cough, chills, itching or skin rash, loss of appetite, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, loss of voice, and hallucination.
Severe Side Effects of Chantix that Need Emergency Medical Help
Consider getting immediate medical help, if you experience any of these side effects: skin rash, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, tongue or lips, hyperventilation, extremely high heartbeat, blood in urine or stool, sudden severe headache, fever, sudden numbness of some body parts, and tightness in the chest.
As soon as you feel any of these effects, stop taking the pills and call your doctor right away.
Side Effects from Chantix for Pregnant/Lactating Women
Currently, we don’t have any enough adequate data or studies on whether pregnant women are at a greater risk by using Chantix or not, or whether it has the potential to secrete in breast milk. As a matter of fact, most people quit smoking or taking nicotine when they are about to become parents, you doctor might still warrant you to use the drug despite the potential risks or they might suggest an alternate aid for cessation.
How to Minimize the Risk of Chantix Side Effects
If you plan on using Chantix, you should have an in-depth discussion about it with your doctor. As we mentioned earlier that people who have any kind of physical disorder are more prone to suffering Chantix adverse effects, so if you have any of these conditions, offer your doctor a full disclosure before you embark on your cessation journey: history of seizures, kidney problems, kidney dialysis, alcohol addiction, heart diseases, blood vessel disorders, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or any mental issue you have or had in the past.
Remember, Chantix shouldn’t be used if you are under the age of 18. Also, this list does not contain all the possible side effects of Chantix. Every human being is unique and can experience unique side effects depending on their age, physical health, physical issues, and addictions.