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Gabapentin - Uses, Contraindications, Interactions, and Dosage

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Gabapentin - Uses, Contraindications, Interactions, and Dosage

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Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat partial seizures and neuropathic pain. Read this article for more information.

Published At July 11, 2019
Reviewed AtJanuary 19, 2023

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an approved medicine to prevent and control partial seizures. Other than that, it is also used to relieve nerve pain in adults. Gabapentin alters the electrical activity in the brain and affects the activity of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are used to send messages between nerve cells.

How Gabapentin Works?

Gabapentin is commonly used to treat neuropathic pain from shingles and herpes. It reduces pain by changing the pathway of pain sensation in post-herpetic neuralgic patients. In addition, it treats seizures by reducing hyperactivity or abnormal excitement in the brain. It is also used in the management of ‘restless legs syndrome.’ Its available forms are immediate or extended-release tablets or oral solutions. It is excreted through urine via the kidneys, and its half-life is five to seven hours.

What Are the Uses of Gabapentin?

Mainly, oral capsules are used to treat the following conditions:

1. Neuropathic pain, including post-herpetic neuralgic pain (a type of pain that persists for months after the treatment of viral infection, herpes zoster).

2. Seizures (sudden and uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain).

3. Restless legs syndrome (irresistible urge to move the legs).

Gabapentin is mainly used as combination therapy.

Gabapentin is available in the market with a brand name and as a generic product. The brand names of Gabapentin include Neurontin, Horizant, and Gralise. It is available in tablets, capsules, and oral solutions. The dosage strength of Gabapentin in different forms is:

  • Gabapentin Tablets - It is available as 300 and 600-milligram tablets (Gralise) and 600 and 800-milligram tablets (Neurontin or generic gabapentin).

  • Gabapentin Oral Solution - The oral solution of Gabapentin includes 250 mg (milligram) of Gabapentin per five milliliters (50 mg per mL).

  • Gabapentin Capsules - Gabapentin is available in capsules as 100, 300, or 400 milligrams.

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What Are the Side Effects of Taking Gabapentin?

Every drug has side effects, and the following can be seen with Gabapentin:

A. Common Side Effects:

  • Fever.

  • Viral infection.

  • Difficulty in speaking.

  • Presence of jerky movements.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Tiredness or weakness.

  • Headache.

  • Uncontrollable shaking of a body part.

  • Double or blurred vision.

  • Unsteadiness.

  • Anxiety.

  • Memory problems.

  • Heartburn.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Dry mouth.

  • Constipation.

  • Increased appetite.

  • Weight gain.

B. Critical Side-Effects:

It can bring changes in the mood or cause anxiety which can present as:

  • Suicidal thoughts.

  • Anxiety.

  • Crankiness.

  • Panic attacks.

  • Difficulty sleeping.

  • Anger.

  • Hyperactivity or talking a lot.

  • Violent behavior.

If given to children from one to three years of age, symptoms can be:

  • Aggression.

  • Concentration difficulty.

  • Hyperactivity.

  • Changes in performance.

Some life-threatening allergic reactions can also occur, which can cause:

  • Skin rashes.

  • Fever.

  • Hives.

  • Swollen lymph nodes.

  • Swollen lips and tongue.

  • Unusual bruising.

  • Bleeding.

  • Muscle pain.

  • Increased frequency of infections.

What Are the Contraindications of Gabapentin?

The following conditions in patients need to be taken care of while thinking of prescribing this drug and must be avoided, which include:

1. Kidney issues (patients on hemodialysis or any other kidney problem).

2. Allergies (any history of allergy to this drug).

3. It should be used for people over 18 years of age.

4. Pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What Are the Precautions and Warnings for Gabapentin?

Since this drug has side effects, some precautions and warnings must be considered before taking it. Therefore, patients should consult the doctor before taking this medicine or if they start experiencing any side effects while taking this medicine. If the patient experience any of the following symptoms, they should consult the doctor immediately:

  • If there are any issues with the kidney in old age or people are on hemodialysis.

  • A patient can feel drowsy as this drug can cause slowing down of thinking and motor skills. Hence, do not drive while taking it.

  • It can cause suicidal thoughts.

  • Allergic reactions.

  • Taking alcohol with this medicine can make a person tired or sleepy.

  • Epileptic patients should not stop taking it abruptly.

  • Avoid taking it during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What Other Drugs Interact with Gabapentin?

This medicine can interact with various other drugs. Some can be beneficial, and others can be harmful. The following are the drugs that can cause interactions:

  • Painkillers or analgesics can increase the side effects of Gabapentin.

  • Antacids can make Gabapentin less effective.

  • Alcohol.

  • Antihistamine drugs (used for allergies).

  • Medicines for depression, such as Amitriptyline and Fluoxetine.

  • Medicines for seizures, such as Phenobarbitone.

  • Medication for stomach problems.

  • General anesthetics or local anesthetics.

  • Muscle relaxants.

  • Narcotic pain medicines.

Conclusion:

Gabapentin is a common drug prescribed to patients with nerve pain. Hence, it is advisable to have information about it before taking it. Moreover, the patient should consult the doctor before taking this drug, as it can cause serious side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Does Gabapentin Work as a Pain Killer and Muscle Relaxants?

Gabapentin is used to relieve neuropathic pain. They reduce pain by changing the way by which the nerves send messages to the brain. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. They help in relaxing muscles. They work by reducing the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.

2.

Is Gabapentin Bad for Health?

Gabapentin has a serious fatal effect on health as it causes severe respiratory depression. It also produces continuous abnormal eye movement, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, difficulty speaking, drowsiness, etc.

3.

Is Gabapentin the Same as Xanax?

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, whereas Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and is also used to treat neuralgic pain.

4.

Does Coffee Alter Gabapentins Effect?

Caffeine reduces the anticonvulsant effect of Gabapentin. It also increases the side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, impaired thinking, etc.

5.

Does Gabapentin Help Insomnia Patients?

Gabapentin produces slow-wave sleep in patients with primary insomnia. They elevate sleep quality by improving sleep efficiency and reducing spontaneous arousal.

6.

Does Gabapentin Increase Your Weight?

Weight gain due to intake of Gabapentin is very less. The weight gain results from increased appetite and fluid retention. Intake of a healthy balanced diet in small portions helps in avoiding weight gain caused by Gabapentin.

7.

Can I Take My Vitamins With Gabapentin?

Gabapentin does not react with vitamins. Only drugs containing aluminum or magnesium should be avoided during the intake of gabapentin. It is always recommended to ask a health professional regarding the interactions.

8.

What Feeling Will I Get After Taking Gabapentin?

On intake of Gabapentin, a person will have relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. The drug also increases the euphoric effect of other drugs like heroin and opioids. Hence care should be taken not to take these drugs along with Gabapentin.

9.

How does Gabapentin React in the Body?

Gabapentin regulates the action of GABA synthetic enzymes, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and the glutamate synthesizing enzyme, and branched-chain amino acid transaminase. It increases the synthesis of GABA.

10.

When Will Gabapentin Intake Reduce Nerve Pain?

Gabapentin starts reducing nerve pain in one to two weeks. It may vary from person to person. And it should not be stopped immediately as pain is reduced. The intake is to be discontinued only on the doctor’s advice.

11.

Can I Take Gabapentin Before Going to Bed?

The peak concentration of Gabapentin is attained in the body after 2 to 3 hours of intake. So if it is taken 2 hours before going to bed, it helps to bring in sleep.

12.

Can Gabapentin Reduce Joint Pain?

Gabapentin has an anti-inflammatory effect, and it reduces the calcium flow into the nerve cells. Thus reducing the pain. Hence it is used to reduce joint pain with other analgesics.

13.

What Drugs Are Contraindicated While Taking Gabapentin?

Gabapentin has interaction with various drugs like Losartan, Ethacrynic acid, Caffeine, Phenytoin, Mefloquine, Magnesium oxide, Cimetidine, Naproxen, Sevelamer, and Morphine. Hence before intake of any medication, should see if these compounds are present in the drug.

14.

How Long Does Gabapentin Be In the Body?

Gabapentin attains its peak around 2 to 3 hours after the intake. In blood, it can be present up to 5 to 9 hours after intake. After which, it is excreted from the body.

15.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Gabapentin?

The common side effects of Gabapentin are dizziness, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, constipation, etc. On long term use of this drug, it might cause memory loss, weakened muscle, respiratory failure, altered mental status, etc.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. J. Mariano Anto Bruno Mascarenhas
Dr. J. Mariano Anto Bruno Mascarenhas

Neurosurgery

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