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What is Viagra?

Viagra is used to treat problems with male sexual function, like impotence or erectile dysfunction. Viagra contains a medicine called Sildenafil, which works by increasing blood flow to the penis in order to help a man get and keep an erection when sexually aroused.

Are there any side effects from taking it?

As with all medication, you can get side effects as a result of using Viagra. Your doctor will always judge the potential risk of these against the overall benefits of treatment, and you will only be prescribed it if they think it will be safe and worthwhile in your situation. Most of the side effects people experience as a result of using Viagra are harmless and won’t have any long-lasting effects.

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Common side effects of Viagra:

This is a list of the most common side effects, which affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people using Viagra:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • upset stomach, nausea
  • nasal congestion
  • visual disturbance, blurred vision, colour distortion
  • flushed skin, or hot flush

These tend to be fairly short-term and should pass soon after your body’s initial reaction to the medicine. Speak to a doctor if any of these are severe or get dramatically worse.

Uncommon side effects of Viagra:

These side effects are less common, and will affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 10,00 people using Viagra:

  • vomiting
  • heartburn, abdominal pain,
  • skin rash
  • eye irritation (pain, blurring, double vision, bloodshot eyes)
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo
  • nose bleeds
  • rapid heartbeat, or pounding
  • change in blood pressure (fainting)
  • muscle ache, tiredness, chest pain
  • numbness, or hypersensitivity to pain
  • blood in the urine

Are there any dangerous side effects linked to Viagra?

It is incredibly rare, but in certain cases, there have been some more serious side effects associated with Viagra use. The exact frequency of these side effects is unknown, but they are very unlikely to occur:

  • painful, prolonged erections (priapism)
  • irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • heart attack
  • seizure
  • stroke
  • extreme flaking of the skin (toxic epidermal necrolysis)
  • blistering skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome)
  • severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, rash, swelling of the face, throat and tongue)

If you experience any of these rare side effects you must seek immediate medical attention.

How long will these side effects last?

This will vary from person to person, but most of the common side effects will be short-term and should not continue for long after you initially take the pill. The side effects should also stop completely if you stop taking the pills at any point.

If side effects are long-lasting, stop using it and seek medical attention immediately.

Is there anything I should avoid while on Viagra?

Some prescription drugs will interact dangerously with Viagra if taken at the same time. Make sure to discuss your full medical history with your prescribing doctor before starting treatment. Usually, you should avoid:

  • certain medicines for heart attacks
  • certain stroke medicines
  • alpha blockers
  • medicines used to treat kidney or liver failure

It is very important to avoid recreational drugs when taking Viagra as these can have potentially fatal effects. Nitrate-based drugs like ‘Poppers’ or ‘Odourisers’ can react very dangerously with Viagra.

How can I lower the risk of Viagra side effects?

  • Dizziness is a common side effect, and you can help reduce the risk of dizziness by getting up more slowly from lying down or when seated to avoid getting a head rush.
  • Avoid alcohol when taking Viagra. Drinking more than 2 units of alcohol will impact the time Viagra takes to have an effect, and can also make it more difficult to gain an erection.
  • Lower your dose. Talk to your doctor about taking a lower dosage of Viagra if the side effects are disruptive to your life. You will still see the results from treatment, but should have fewer side effects on a lower dose.
  • Take it with food. Usually, you should take Viagra on an empty stomach, but taking it with a meal can help to reduce any unpleasant side effects. This may slightly reduce the effectiveness or mean that it takes longer for the drug to kick in, but most people will find a balance that works for them.
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