Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chantix Side Effects

Chantix is the US trading name for the drug varenicline, developed by Pfizer and released for general use in 2006. It has received some exceptional media attention due to its (claimed) success rates. Pfizer's own website claims a 44% success rate which makes for a very interesting and potentially profitable drug. The more commonly accepted 'success rate' is only 22% however.

As with Zyban, the other well-known aid for smoking cessation, there are a number of side effects to be taken into consideration with Chantix.

Chantix side effects are known to include most seriously, severe nausea with up to 30% of people trying to quit smoking using Chantix, having to stop the treatment due to this side effect being so strong. Disturbances of the gut such as constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, excessive indigestion and excessive flatulence have all been mentioned as well as vomiting.

Other Chantix side effects are known to include headaches, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), abnormal dreams including nightmares, sleepiness and dizziness.

People have reported other Chantix side effects including a change in their sense of taste (no - not fashion or the opposite sex!), a dry mouth and changes in appetite both for food and for sex! They have also reported increased incidences of airway infections, mood swings, tremor and restlessness.

Some people also notice an increased need for the bathroom, chest pains, palpitations, and skin reactions such as rashes or itchiness.

Having listed all of these potential side effects however, it is important to note that not all side effects happen in every person. Admittedly, many people suffer too much from the nausea to continue with the treatment but many of the other side effects are quite mild and potentially a small price to pay for quitting smoking.

It is also important to note that many of these Chantix side effects show up when people quit smoking anyway and they are commonly attributed to nicotine withdrawal. Of note, dry mouth, increased airway infections, mood swings and anxiety, tremor and chest pains are all attributed to nicotine withdrawal too.

It is also important to mention, despite its short-term claim for 44% success rates, Chantix's longer-term success rates are similar to that of Zyban. Zyban is made more effective by using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and Chantix is more effective if subjects take NRT after finishing the 12-week course. You can read my views on nicotine replacement therapy at

Both Zyban and Chantix are used in combination with support counselling for smokers as well as NRT. The drugs themselves cannot stand up on their own and certainly do not come with money back guarantees and that is on top of the Chantix side effects listed here.

Notwithstanding all this, if you want to quit smoking, no matter how many times you don't achieve it, just keep on trying. Never stop trying to quit!

Why do people try to quit smoking before they know how to quit smoking? Pete Howells is the author of the EasyQuit System available only online at . He also blogs and post articles and videos at and at