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Side effects of atorvastatin

Like all medicines, atorvastatin can cause side effects in some people, but not everybody gets them. Different statins affect people in different ways.

Some side effects may improve after the first few days, as your body gets used to the medicine.

Common side effects

These common side effects of atorvastatin happen in more than 1 in 100 people. There are things you can do to help cope with them:

Feeling sick (nausea) or indigestion

Stick to simple meals and do not eat rich or spicy food. It might help to take your atorvastatin after a meal or snack.

If you continue to get symptoms of indigestion, ask your pharmacist to recommend an antacid. Contact your doctor if your symptoms continue for more than a few days or if they get worse.


Make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. It's best not to drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller.

Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking atorvastatin. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.


If you get a nosebleed, sit down and lean forward, with your head tilted forward. Pinch your nose just above your nostrils for 10 to 15 minutes and breathe through your mouth. You could also try holding an icepack (or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the top of your nose to help reduce the blood flow.

Sore throat

If you have a sore throat, try gargling with warm, salty water (children should not try this), or ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller to ease any pain or discomfort. Drink plenty of water, eat cool or soft foods, and avoid smoking or smoky places.

If the symptoms last longer than a week ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, blocked nose or sneezing

Make sure you rest, keep yourself warm and drink plenty of fluids. Your pharmacist can recommend a suitable cold medicine and a decongestant spray or tablets to help relieve a blocked nose.

Constipation or farting (flatulence)

Try to eat smaller meals, eat more high-fibre foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Drinking peppermint tea can be helpful for farting. Try to exercise more regularly, for example, by going for a daily walk or run.

If this does not help, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.


Drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash, to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark, strong-smelling pee. Do not take any other medicines to treat diarrhoea without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.

If you take the combined contraceptive pill or progestogen-only pill and you have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, your contraception may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet for advice.

If this advice does not help and any of these side effects continue or bother you, keep taking the medicine, but tell your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Stop taking atorvastatin and call a doctor or call 111 straight away if:

  • you get unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps – these can be signs of muscle breakdown and kidney damage
  • the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or your skin turns yellow, although this may be less obvious on brown or black skin, or if you have pale poo and dark pee – these can be signs of liver problems
  • you get a skin rash with pink or red blotches, especially on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet – this could be a sign of erythema multiforme
  • you have severe stomach pain – this can be a sign of acute pancreatitis
  • you have a cough, feel short of breath, and are losing weight – this can be a sign of lung disease
  • you have a weakness in your arms or legs that gets worse after activity, or if you get double vision, drooping eyelids, problems swallowing or shortness of breath - these can be a sign of mysathenia gravis

Call 111.

Urgent advice: Call 999 now or go to A&E if:

  • you develop severe breathing or swallowing problems

Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly increases the chance of you having side effects with atorvastatin, and liver problems.

If you think that atorvastatin is causing side effects and they're making you want to stop taking it, talk to your doctor first. They may be caused by another problem and not the medicine. Your doctor may suggest lowering your dose or changing your medicine.

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to atorvastatin.

Immediate action required: Call 999 now if:

  • your lips, mouth, throat or tongue suddenly become swollen
  • you're breathing very fast or struggling to breathe (you may become very wheezy or feel like you're choking or gasping for air)
  • your throat feels tight or you're struggling to swallow
  • your skin, tongue or lips turn blue, grey or pale (if you have black or brown skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet)
  • you suddenly become very confused, drowsy or dizzy
  • someone faints and cannot be woken up
  • a child is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)

You or the person who's unwell may also have a rash that's swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling.

These can be signs of a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Other side effects

These are not all the side effects of atorvastatin. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.


You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.

Visit Yellow Card for further information.

Page last reviewed: 7 March 2022
Next review due: 7 March 2025