How to Avoid Cialis Side Effects

Published July 11th, 2022 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Chris Riley

Millions of men around the world take Cialis to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) and while Cialis is a safe and effective drug, there are some side effects that can occur when taking this medication.

The side effects can range from mild to severe and some may require you to seek medical attention.

In this article, we will discuss how to avoid the most common side effects of Cialis while also looking at the differences in side effects between Cialis and Viagra and if you need to avoid taking Cialis altogether.

What is Cialis?

Cialis is a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription medication used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).

Tadalafil is the active ingredient in Cialis and belongs to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, which are also known as PDE inhibitors.

PDE inhibitors work by relaxing the muscles and increasing the blood supply to specific areas of your body by dilating your blood vessels which is how it helps you get an erection when you have sexual stimulation.

Cialis also has a generic form called tadalafil with both forms being available as prescription-only and they can be taken as needed or once a day.

When taking Cialis, it can provide effects for up to 36 hours after taking it while Viagra only lasts for three to four hours.

What are the mild side effects of taking Cialis?

The most common mild side effects of Cialis include:

  • Headache
  • Dyspepsia (upset stomach)
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Flushing of your skin, especially facial flushing, which is when your skin becomes warm and red
  • Pain in your extremities (arms and legs)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Heartburn

These potential side effects typically last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. If your symptoms last even longer or become severe, please consult with your doctor or health care provider.

If you experience heartburn, you may want to talk to your doctor about changing your diet or possibly taking over-the-counter medications for it such as calcium carbonate (Tums) or pink bismuth (Pepto-Bismol).

Headaches, muscle aches, and back aches can also be treated with over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Cough and diarrhea may be treated with over-the-counter medicines as well. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications.

What are the more serious side effects of taking Cialis?

There are some side effects that are more severe than others although most are rare occurrences. More serious side effects of Cialis can include:

Priapism

Due to Cialis being used to treat erectile dysfunction, priapism is one of the most serious side effects and it is a painful, prolonged erection that lasts for more than four hours and can cause severe pain in your penis.

If you experience priapism, please seek medical care immediately as it can lead to permanent damage to your penis if not treated right away.

Heart conditions

Cialis can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly which can lead to dizziness or fainting. You also are at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Chest pain, heart palpitations where it feels like your heart is skipping a beat, and a rapid heart rate are also possible when taking Cialis.

It is important that you tell your doctor about any heart conditions before taking Cialis too as nitrate medications are used as a heart medication and when taken together with Cialis they can cause dangerously low blood pressure levels.

Furthermore, sexual activity can be strenuous on your heart and if it is not able to withstand this physical activity then you need to avoid it until you are healthy.

Changes in blood pressure

Taking Cialis can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly, which can lead to dizziness or fainting.

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Cialis, please sit down or lie down and try to raise your legs up and loosen any tight clothing such as a belt.

High blood pressure is also a possibility although low blood pressure was more common in clinical trials.

Besides dizziness and fainting, you may also experience chest pain or a headache. You need to call for emergency medical treatment right away if you experience any of these side effects for either high or low blood pressure.

Changes in vision

Cialis can cause a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes which is typically followed by a temporary blurring of your vision.

The change and loss of vision are caused by non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) which can cause you to lose blood flow to your optic nerve. Common symptoms of optic nerve damage can include the following:

  • Eye pain
  • Changes in the colors in your vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling of your eyelids
  • Conjunctivitis which is also known as pink eye
  • Frequent tears (more than normal)

If you experience any changes in vision while taking Cialis, please consult with your doctor right away as it could be a sign of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy.

Changes in hearing

Cialis can also cause a sudden decrease in hearing which is often followed by a ringing in your ears (tinnitus) or dizziness.

It can also cause you to have hearing loss on top of these other symptoms. These problems are typically caused by an influx of blood into the labyrinth of your ear which can lead to vertigo.

If you experience any changes in hearing while taking Cialis, please stop taking the medication and consult with your doctor.

Allergic reaction

It is possible to have an allergic reaction to Cialis which can cause a rash, hives, or swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face.

If you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while taking Cialis, please stop taking the medication and seek medical attention immediately as it could be a sign of a serious allergic reaction.

Are there ways to avoid the side effects of Cialis?

Yes, there are a few ways you can avoid unwanted side effects of Cialis although side effects may still happen.

First, make sure to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have before taking the medication.

Next, you will want to talk to your doctor about your medical history and any other medical conditions you may have as this could affect whether your doctor prescribes Cialis.

You need to also avoid alcohol while taking Cialis as it can cause low blood pressure and can exacerbate some of the side effects such as headaches.

Finally, make sure to follow the directions on how to take Cialis as directed by your doctor or the manufacturer.

Do not take more or less of it than what is prescribed and do not take it more often than directed.

The strength of your dose can also play a role in how severe your side effects are as well as how often you experience them.

The higher the dose you take, the more likely you are to experience side effects and they may be more severe. It is important to talk to your doctor about what dose is right for you to avoid these adverse events based on your medical history, the severity of your erectile dysfunction, and any other medications you are taking.

What are the differences in side effects between Cialis and Viagra?

Cialis and Viagra are both PDE-inhibitors which means they work by inhibiting an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 and this makes their side effects very similar.

The main difference between Cialis and Viagra in terms of side effects is that Cialis may cause pain in your arms and legs.

However, it is important to note that the main difference between these two erectile dysfunction medications that do not involve side effects is that Cialis lasts for 36 hours while Viagra lasts for only three to four hours.

Who needs to avoid taking Cialis?

You may need to avoid taking Cialis or at least use it with caution if you have certain medical conditions. These include the following:

  • Heart problems such as heart disease
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • High blood pressure including pulmonary hypertension which is high blood pressure in the arteries of your lungs
  • A history of strokes or mini-strokes
  • A history of heart attacks or congestive heart failure
  • Medical conditions involving your blood cells such as sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and multiple myeloma
  • Allergic reactions to previous doses of Cialis or its ingredients
  • Retinitis pigmentosa which is a rare eye condition that can lead to vision loss

As noted above, be sure to limit your alcohol intake or avoid alcohol completely when taking Cialis as the two may interact and cause a large drop in blood pressure.

Women have not been approved to take Cialis so there are no studies available about what Cialis may do to a woman if she decides to take Cialis.

Always talk to your doctor about any medications or supplements you are currently taking or plan to take to avoid any drug interactions and always disclose your full medical history before starting any new medication.

Summary

Cialis is an erectile dysfunction medication that can cause mild to serious side effects.

Most side effects go away within a few days to several weeks; however, some side effects may get worse or more severe in which case you need to talk to your doctor or seek medical attention immediately if it is a medical emergency.

There are ways you can avoid the side effects of Cialis including disclosing any medications or supplements you are currently taking or plan to take, talking to your doctor about any health conditions you have, following the directions on how to take the medication, and avoiding alcohol while taking Cialis.

If you have any questions or concerns about the side effects of Cialis, be sure to talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

References, Studies and Sources:

MedicalNewsToday

Hims

Single Care

Mayo Clinic

Drugs.com

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