Gabapentin | Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Warnings
Gabapentin is a drug used in adults to treat nerve pains caused by herpes virus and seizures. It is an anti-epileptic medication, also called anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body which are involved in seizures and pain. Gabapentin oral capsule is a prescribed drug that’s available under the brand name Neurontin. Both generic gabapentin and Neurontin are also available in an immediate-release tablet and an oral solution. It also comes under the brand name Horizant which is used to treat restless leg syndrome. Neurontin is used to treat seizures in adults and children above the age 3.
Why Gabapentin is used:
It is used to treat partial seizures in patients who have epilepsy.
Postherpetic neuralgia. This is pain from nerve damage caused by shingles, a painful rash that affects adults. This virus occurs in people who have had chicken pox earlier.
Restless legs syndrome. This condition caused discomfort in the legs, resulting in a strong urge to move them. It typically occurs when a person is relaxing or sleeping.
Before taking Gabapentin, make sure you tell your doctor if you have:
Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
A history of depression, mood disorder, drug abuse, or suicidal thoughts or actions
Heart disease; or
If you are a day sleeper or work at a night shift.
How it works
It’s not fully understood how gabapentin works. For postherpetic neuralgia, it seems to prevent the increase in sensitivity to pain that occurs. For seizures, t may alter the effect of calcium. it’s restless legs its effect is not understood.
Consume gabapentin as prescribed by your doctor. The drug comes in different forms. Each form is released into your body in different ways, so the dosage for each is different. Take only the form that your doctor recommended you and take it exactly in the same amount. Follow the preventive measure and directions given in the prescription. Do not take this medicine in larger or lesser amounts as prescribed by the physician nor for longer period of time then recommended.
The Horizant brand of gabapentin shouldn’t be taken during the day time. For best results, take it with food at about 5 in the evening.
Neurontin can be consumed with or without food. If you break the tablet into two and have only half of it, then the latter should be consumed on the very next dose. Do not let the broken tablet kept for a long time.
Dosage for postherpetic neuralgia:
Typical starting dosage: day 1, 300mg; day2, 600mg (300mg two times a day); day3, 900mg (300mg three times a day). Your doctor may further increase the dosage as per the requirement.
Maximum dosage: 1,800 mg per day (600 mg three times a day).
Dose for people younger than 18 years is not yet established.
Senior dosage (age 65 and above):
At this age, your kidney function may decrease. Your doctor may start you on a lower dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be dangerous so, your doctor may change your dose on how well your kidneys are working.
Gabapentin side effects
- Intake of this drug causes increased suicidal thoughts. The patient should be taken care of if he tries suicidal attempts.
- Changes in mood or anxiety. This may include sudden changes in behavior, aggressive violent behavior, and mood swings.
- Panic attacks.
- The patient may find trouble sleeping and become restless. He may get talkative or have extreme increase in activity.
- Over-thinking. Patient might be occupied by several thoughts and face trouble concentrating.
- There can be some life threatening allergic reactions like trouble breathing, skin rashes, hives, swollen gland that does not go away, yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice), development of bruises, unusual bleeding, severe tiredness or weakness, unexpected muscle pain and frequent infections.
Do not take this drug again if you face any of the stated side effects. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- Stomach or chest pains, new or worsening cough and fever
- Severe tingling or numbness
- Rapid back and forth movement of eyes
- Kidney problems like little or no urination, painful and difficult urination, swollen ankles
- Severe skin reactions like swelling up of face, lips and tongue, skin pain followed by red or purple rashes that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.
- Memory problems, headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.
- For people with epilepsy. Do not stop taking gabapentin suddenly. Doing this can increase your risk of having a condition called status epilepticus. This is a medical emergency in which short or long seizures occur for 30 minutes or more.
- For pregnant women. Research in animals has show an adverse effect of the drug on the fetus. But there haven’t been enough studies on humans to be certain about how it affects the fetus.
- For breastfeeding women. Gabapentin may pass into the breast milk and cause serious side effect to the infant.
- Take the drug on time. Do not stop taking it suddenly or don’t take it at all. If you miss doses your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. In order for this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body.
- Do not overdose. You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of overdose may include double vision, slurred speech, tiredness, and loose stools.
- If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before the time of your next dose, then just take only one. Never ever try to take two tablets at a time.
- Avoid alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin. Drinking alcohol can make you even more tired. It can also make you more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble concentrating.
Gabapentin is a class-A drug which should be consumed carefully and on time. You should never try any experiments like changing the brand or doses without consulting the doctor. It should be taken in appropriate amounts as disturbed intake of the drug can severely affect your body. Report the side effects to your physician as soon as possible.