What is Varenicline?
Varenicline is a medication used to help people quit smoking. It is used along with behavior modification and counseling support to eliminate nicotine dependence which is the most dangerous chemical substance found in cigarettes and other tobacco based smoking products.
Varenicline is marketed as various names across the globe, some of which are Chantix, Champix (made by Pfizer). It is available in several types like Starter Pack and Maintenance Pack.
Varenicline targets the brain where it obstructs the pleasurable effects of smoking, thereby reducing your desire to smoke in the future. This medication may also used for other purposes not mentioned here.
Important Information about Varenicline
Prior to using Varenicline (Chantix, Champix), inform your doctor if you have any disease of the heart, circulatory problems, kidney disease, or an episode of depression or mental illness. There are a couple of ways to use this medication. Consult your doctor about the best way for you. To have the greatest chance of quitting your smoking habit, ensure that you quit it on your planned quit date.
After you stop smoking, doses of any medications which you may be using at that time may need an adjustment. Let your doctor know of all your present medications, especially insulin, asthma medications, or blood thinners.
Immediately stop using Varenicline and notify your doctor if you witness any mood or behavior changes, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, or if you feel fearful, impulsive, agitated, aggressive, restless, hostile, depressed, hyperactivity (physically or mentally), or have suicidal thoughts or that of hurting yourself. Varenicline may also impact your thinking capability and reflexes. Until you know the working and the whole process of Varenicline in helping you quit smoking, take extra precautions and be more careful while driving or activities which require much attention and alertness. You may also have mood or behavior changes when you quit smoking.
Before taking Varenicline
Before taking Varenicline (Chantix, Champix), discuss about all the points mentioned above with your doctor.
Varenicline is classified as FDA pregnancy category C which means it is not known whether Varenicline has the potential to harm an unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant. It is also not known if Varenicline can pass into breast milk and harm your nursing bay. Make sure to inform your doctor about your pregnancy or if you are planning a pregnancy. Also ask your doctor if it is safe to take this medication if you are breast feeding.
Anyone below 18 years of age shouldn’t take Varenicline.
How should I take Varenicline?
Take Varenicline (Chantix, Champix) precisely as advised by your doctor. Don’t change the course of the medication in any way. Varenicline comes with patient instructions. Follow them carefully. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor or pharmacist in case you have any doubts.
There are two ways in which you can use Varenicline. Consult your doctor which of these methods is the best fit for you: 1>Decide a date on which you want to stop smoking and begin taking Varenicline a week before that date. This will permit the drug to accumulate in your body. 2> You may also begin Varenicline course even before you decide on a planned smoking quit date. Once you start taking this medication, pick a quit date that lays between 8 days to 35 days after your start your ‘quit smoking’ program. To have the best shot at completely quitting you smoking habit, ensure that you quit smoking on your planned quit date.
Take Varenicline after having a meal with a glass of water. Your dose will be low initially when you start your treatment but increase gradually over several days of the treatment. Stick to the dosage which your doctor has advised, very accurately.
Normally in most cases, Varenicline treatment extends for about 12 weeks. Your doctor may advise another 12 week course to improve your chance of quitting smoking for a long term.
What if I miss a dose of Varenicline?
If you miss a dose of Varenicline, take it as soon as you remember it. However, skip the missed dose if the time to take the next dose is near. Don’t take extra medication or two doses near to each other to compensate for the missed dose.
What if I overdose?
Get emergency medical attention or call the Doctor immediately if you take an overdose of Varenicline.
Things to avoid while taking Varenicline
Varenicline (Chantix, Champix) may impact your thinking and reflexes. You may also experience mood or behavior changes. Until you know the working and the whole process of Varenicline in helping you quit smoking, take extra precautions and be more careful while driving or activities which require much attention and alertness.
Do not use other medications used to quit smoking along with Varenicline, unless or otherwise directed by your doctor.
Varenicline Side Effects
Immediately stop using Varenicline (Chantix, Champix) and notify your doctor if you witness any mood or behavior changes, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, or if you feel fearful, impulsive, agitated, aggressive, restless, hostile, depressed, hyperactivity (physically or mentally), or have suicidal thoughts or that of hurting yourself.
Other side effects of Varenicline are angina (chest pain) or pressure; constricting feeling in the neck or jaw; pain spreading to your arm or shoulder; vomiting; sweating; general ill feeling; feeling light headed or short of breath; unexpected numbness or weakness; especially on one side of the body; sudden severe headache; confusion, vision, speech or balance problems; or insomnia
These are not all the side effects which you may notice due to Varenicline treatment. There may be others as well.
Varenicline Dosing Information
Strictly follow all dosing directions which your doctor gave you. Stick to them to get the best outcome of your Varenicline treatment.
Interaction with other drugs
Certain drugs may interfere with Varenicline (Chantix, Champix). Let your doctor know about all drugs which you may be using, especially insulin, blood thinner like warfarin, or asthma medication like theophylline.
The above list of drugs, which can interact with Varenicline is not a complete one and there may be other drugs which can interact with it. Always consult your doctor before starting a new medication and before stopping or altering the course of any existing ones.
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