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Niacin is another term for vitamin B-3. An allergy to niacin is considered uncommon, but could be life-threatening, according to Aetna InteliHealth 2. An allergy to niacin needs to be comfirmed by a medical professional through allergy testing. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat based solely on symptoms. The symptoms of an allergy to niacin are similar to food-related allergies, according to Healthy-Skincare.com 1. Most symptoms will develop within a few minutes to a few hours after ingesting the supplement.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Allergic Reaction Cause
An allergic reaction occurs when a patient has a hypersensitivity to an allergen. An allergen is any substance that the immune system fails to recognize as safe. The immune system begins to defend itself from the mistaken substance by creating antibodies, according to MedlinePlus. The antibodies trigger mast cells to begin producing histamine throughout the body. Increased histamine levels lead to common allergy symptoms related to niacin.
- An allergic reaction occurs when a patient has a hypersensitivity to an allergen.
- An allergen is any substance that the immune system fails to recognize as safe.
Side Effects of Niacin & Hives
The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction to niacin are general itching, rash and shortness of breath, according to Aetna’s InteliHealth 2. The skin will become inflamed and irritated because of high levels of histamine in the skin. Common rashes associated with an allergic reaction are hives and eczema. Shortness of breath and other asthma-like symptoms can develop, such as the inability to breathe, wheezing and coughing. Itching can develop in the mouth, lips or throat.
- The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction to niacin are general itching, rash and shortness of breath, according to Aetna’s InteliHealth 2.
- Shortness of breath and other asthma-like symptoms can develop, such as the inability to breathe, wheezing and coughing.
MedlinePlus warns that an allergic reaction to niacin can cause a whole-body allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis 3. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction that releases extremely high levels of histamine throughout the body, causing the patient to experience a state of shock. Common symptoms include:
- chest tightness
- difficulty swallowing
- flushing in the face
Anaphylaxis may require an injection of epinephrine to reduce symptoms.
Is Niacin Good for You?
If someone is experiencing an allergic reaction to niacin, take note of the symptoms and treat appropriately. For example, if a rash develops, administer an oral antihistamine, apply hydrocortisone to the affect areas and apply a cold compress, according to MedlinePlus. If hives develop, make sure the person is able to breathe and keep a watchful eye for increased signs of distress. Get medical help for proper treatment.
- If someone is experiencing an allergic reaction to niacin, take note of the symptoms and treat appropriately.
- If hives develop, make sure the person is able to breathe and keep a watchful eye for increased signs of distress.
Other Adverse Reactions
Other adverse reactions include:
- stomach discomfort
- panic attacks
- irregular heartbeats
- pain in the teeth
All of these symptoms should be evaluated by a medical doctor.
Side Effects of Niacin & Hives
Is Niacin Good for You?
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- Heatlhy-Skincare.com: Niacin Skin Rash
- Aetna's InteliHealth: Niacin (B3)
- MedlinePlus: Allergic Reactions
- National Institutes of Medicine Office of Dietary Supplements. Niacin Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated June 3, 2020.
- MedlinePlus. Niacin. Updated June 4, 2020.
- Boden WE, Probstfield JL, Anderson T, et al. Niacin in Patients with Low HDL Cholesterol Levels Receiving Intensive Statin Therapy. N Engl J Med. 2011;365(24):2255-2267. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1107579
- Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, et al. Dietary niacin and the risk of incident Alzheimer's disease and of cognitive decline. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004;75(8):1093-1099. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.025858
- Elam MB, Hunninghake DB, Davis KB, et al. Effect of Niacin on Lipid and Lipoprotein Levels and Glycemic Control in Patients With Diabetes and Peripheral Arterial Disease: The ADMIT Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2000;284(10):1263-1270. doi:10.1001/jama.284.10.1263
- Zhai G. Alteration of Metabolic Pathways in Osteoarthritis. Metabolites. 2019;9(1):11. doi:10.3390/metabo9010011
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.