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Sildenafil.

How Long Do Viagra Side Effects Last?

Viagra is safe for most people to use. But Viagra (generic name sildenafil) is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 inhibitor) with a higher side-effect profile than other PDE5 inhibitors, according to a 2015 study. But for many men, it’s a fair trade-off. Most have only mild side effects and find the Viagra to be more effective than other PDE5 inhibitors. But how long do those side effects last? This article will discuss the common and not-so-common adverse reactions to Viagra and how long they take to resolve.

Adverse ReactionViagraPlacebo
Headache16%4%
Flushing10%1%
Dyspepsia7%2%
Nasal congestion4%2%
Urinary Tract Infection3%2%
Abnormal Vision3%0%
Diarrhea3%1%
Dizziness2%1%
Rash2%1%

Most common side effects of Viagra and percentage of men reporting them when taken as recommended, as flexible-dose, according to the FDA

Most Common Viagra Side Effects

Headache

The most common side effect of Viagra, headaches occur because Viagra is a vasodilator that works by increasing blood flow to the penis. This increase in blood flow can cause pressure in the blood vessels of the head as well, leading to a headache. Though the FDA chart above shows that 16% of users experience headaches, a 2014 study found it was closer to 25%. Most of those headaches are mild, but some are migraine-type.

The same study found that Viagra can cause severe cluster headaches in patients who are susceptible to them and recommended that these men use a different PDE5 inhibitor. Cluster headaches occur in bouts that can last from 7 days to several months.

Thankfully, most Viagra-induced headaches are mild and last from one to three hours, but some last for as long as it takes for the Viagra to clear from your system (usually three to five hours). Many men find that their bodies adjust to the Viagra as they continue to use it, and the headaches become less frequent and/or less intense.

Muscle Aches

Muscle aches (including back pain) are common side effects of PDE5 inhibitors, including Viagra. The pain is usually mild and lasts for as long as Viagra is in your bloodstream. Heartburn/Indigestion

Because Viagra relaxes smooth muscles of the body as it works, it can affect the esophageal stricture, the valve in the throat that allows swallowing, then closes to prevent stomach acid from backing up into the throat. Viagra can cause the valve to stay open, causing heartburn that can last from a few minutes up to several hours, or until the Viagra clears the body.

Reduced Blood Pressure

All PDE5 inhibitors can cause a harmless drop in blood pressure. But taking Viagra with certain other drugs, including nitrates prescribed for heart disease, can be dangerous.

MEN WHO ARE TAKING NITRATES SHOULD NOT TAKE PDE5 INHIBITORS.

Facial Flushing

Flushing is redness that can appear on the face or chest. It’s a common side effect of most PDE-5 inhibitors, but it’s a little less likely to happen with Viagra than with others. Flushing usually lasts a few hours.

Nasal Congestion

Congestion is a common side effect of all PDE5 inhibitors. The same mechanism that stimulates an erection — nitric oxide — is responsible for the nasal congestion. The nitrous oxide has the same effect on the soft tissues of the nostrils that it does in the penis, causing congestion. The problem can last for a few hours until the traces of Viagra have left the body.

Urinary Tract Infection

There is very little in the literature about a link between urinary tract infections and Viagra, but the manufacturer and the FDA both list it as an uncommon adverse effect. Men who have UTI symptoms should see their healthcare provider.

Rash

There is clinical evidence of rashes occurring following Viagra use. As allergic reactions are individual, there is no way to tell how long a skin eruption might last. Men with allergic reactions should seek medical attention.

Dizziness

Dizziness (syncope) is a rare side effect of all PDE5 inhibitors. It only occurs in about 2% of men who use Viagra. Lowering the dose may solve the problem. Dizziness can last for several hours after taking Viagra.

Visual Disturbances

Several types of visual disturbances are linked to Viagra. They include blurry vision, “blue” vision (called cyanopsia), and a sense of increased brightness of light.

Research has shown that these distortions of vision are mild and only occur when the Viagra is at its highest levels in the body. There don’t appear to be any long-term effects in patients who experience this.

Less Common But More Serious Side Effects

Priapism

A prolonged erection (up to four hours) or priapism (an erection lasting up to six hours) can happen with all PDE5 inhibitors. Thankfully, these conditions are rare, but men who experience either of them need immediate medical attention. Both conditions can cause permanent damage to the penis. 

Optic Nerve Damage

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is a condition that causes decreased vision or permanent blindness. NAION has been connected to Viagra use, though there’s no proof that Viagra caused it. Some patients had medical or lifestyle issues that could have contributed, but others did not.

Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss or sudden deafness caused by PDE5 inhibitors, including Viagra, is very rare, but it does happen, according to a 2011 study. A study done in 2013 on mice found no hearing loss with sildenafil (Viagra).

However, by 2019, 478 cases had been recorded in men after taking sildenafil and 401 after taking tadalafil (Cialis). The average age of the men who suffered hearing loss was about 56 years. Though 88% of them lost hearing in only one ear, these are permanent hearing losses.

Couple touching foreheads.

A Final Word

Viagra has a long record of safety. Most of its side effects are mild and only affect a small percentage of users. Most will only last for a few hours; however, some can be more severe and last longer. Any man having a severe reaction to Viagra should stop taking the medication and call a medical provider.

If you are interested in a PDE5 inhibitor, or changing the brand or dosage of one you’re already taking, click here to find out how we can help.

Paula Clark worked in the healthcare industry for 17 years before becoming a full-time freelance health and medical writer. Her clients appreciate her ability to convey complex information in terms laypeople can understand. Paula prides herself on the depth and accuracy of her research. Her goal is to add authority to your site in words that will delight both Google and your readers.