Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic medication, also called an anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.

Gabapentin is used in adults to treat nerve pain caused by herpes virus or shingles (herpes zoster).

The Horizant brand is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).

The Neurontin brand is also used to treat seizures in adults and children who are at least 3 years old.

Use only the brand and form of gabapentin that your doctor has prescribed.

Check your medicine each time you get a refill at the pharmacy, to make sure you have received the correct form of this medication. What is Gabapentin, How to take Gabapentin, the Gabapentin Dosage, Gabapentin side effects, Gabapentin Dependence, What is the effectiveness of Gabapentin on Pain.

Will Gabapentin affect pregnancy or breastfeeding?

This article will help you know if Gabapentin is safe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Gabapentin and pregnancy

The answer to the question whether taking Gabapentin is safe or not during pregnancy is still not known. Some say yes while other says no. When you decide on this factor, it becomes important to find out how necessary is the use of Gabapentin for you during pregnancy? Also you should calculate the risks to your baby and you and it will depend on how many weeks/months pregnant you are. The main objective during pregnancy is to be healthy while taking care of your unborn baby. Also we cannot ignore the fact that epilepsy should be controlled during pregnancy as seizures can lead to complications in unborn child and mother. In such cases it becomes necessary for some pregnant women to go for Gabapentin therapy.

It is recommended that women who are trying to conceive or are in first trimester of their pregnancy should take high doses of folic acid that is 5mg/day and high doses should be recommended by the doctor.

If you are suffering from epilepsy and taking Gabapentin, then do not stop taking the medication suddenly as it can lead to complications to you and your baby. Do not make any changes in your dose without talking to your doctor. The studies conducted do not show any signs of birth defects in babies born to mothers who used Gabapentin in their pregnancy. There are no evidences available that support any facts that can cause miscarriage or preterm birth too.

Since there are no evidences available that help us know whether Gabapentin is safe or not during pregnancy, pregnant women are asked to get diagnostic ultrasonography done before 20th week of their pregnancy to assess the development of foetus or if the termination of pregnancy is necessary.

So if you are pregnant and taking Gabapentin or planning to use Gabapentin, speak to your doctor as your doctor can examine your current medical condition and depending on your health status he can let you know whether you can use this medication or not. You can take a wise decision with the help of your doctor so that you can be stress free all throughout your pregnancy.

Gabapentin and breastfeeding

Gabapentin passes in the breast milk. There are no evidences available that claim that Gabapentin is not safe while breastfeeding. The manufacturers generally recommend that Gabapentin should be only used during breastfeeding if the benefits of the medications are higher than the risks. Therefore talk to your doctor to know about the benefits and risks. There are very few reports that say that use of Gabapentin by breastfeeding moms didn’t lead to any problems in infants. Normally healthy new born babies easily tolerate amounts of medication (Gabapentin) transferred through breast milk.

If your doctor thinks that Gabapentin is beneficial for you during breastfeeding, make sure you monitor your baby closely for any possible side effects.  Check for signs of feeding problems, drowsiness, slow development and weight gain.

Gabapentin- Drug interactions that can affect your health

Drug interactions should be considered before you start using Gabapentin. You should check with your doctor to know about various drugs that can interact with Gabapentin. If you are using additional medicines other than Gabapentin, let your doctor know as those medicines can interact with Gabapentin to affect your health. Let your doctor know if you are using herbal preparation, dietary supplements or any other medications.

Gabapentin with Opioids

Hydrocodone

Using Gabapentin and hydrocodone together can decrease hydrocodone exposure. The power for changing the hydrocodone exposure and its effect should be determined when Gabapentin is discontinued or started in a patient using hyrdocodone.

Morphine

While using morphine and Gabapentin together, the patients should be monitored for signs of CNS depression like sedation, somnolence and respiratory depression.

Maalox (magnesium hydroxide and aluminium hydroxide)

The efficacy of Gabapentin was decreased by nearly 20% with combined use of Maalox (antacid) consisting of aluminium and magnesium hydroxides. So, Gabapentin should be taken at least 2 hours after using Maalox.

Naproxen

Using Gabapentin with naproxen can elevate the Gabapentin amount absorbed in your body. Although the increased amount is quite low to cause any severe side effects, still extra caution should be taken while using the two medications together. Such patients tend to experience some side effects as well.

Cimetidine

Using Gabapentin and cimetidine together can reduce the renal secretion of the medication resulting in increased level of Gabapentin in the blood. However small decrease in Gabapentin cannot result in adverse effects.

Some other drugs that can interact with Gabapentin are as given below

  • Magnesium Trisilicate
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Ginkgo
  • Dihydroxyaluminum Aminoacetate
  • Aluminium Carbonate, Basic
  • Morphine Sulfate Liposome
  • Magnesium Oxide
  • Magaldrate
  • Aluminium Phosphate
  • Dihydroxyaluminum Sodium Carb

Although the above medications should not be taken with Gabapentin, there are some cases where the combination of the medications is required in spite of the different interactions that take place. In such cases, your doctor may change your dose or ask you to take necessary precautions. Also your doctor should be aware of other medicines you are taking so that you can use the combination safely.  The combination of the drugs might be the better option for the treatment so your doctor will help you know how to use the drugs safely.

The drugs also have some other interactions with certain foods, tobacco or alcohol. So discuss with your doctor if you are drinking alcohol, using tobacco etc.

Drug interactions lead to many complications depending upon the severity of the interaction. If you are using any other medications, it is necessary for your health care provider to know about the drugs so that he can check for possible drug interactions and suggest you whether you can take the drug or not. He can also make dosage adjustment so that you get maximum benefits from combination of drugs.

Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your dose and do not stop any medication without consulting your doctor.

Gabapentin – Dosage information for RLS, Epilepsy and Postherpetic Neuralgia

The Gabapentin dosage differs in each individual depending upon the age of the person, current medical condition and patient’s tolerance to the medicine. This article will help you know about the general Gabapentin dosage information for RLS, Epilepsy and Postherpetic Neuralgia. Again the dosage can differ thus you should take Gabapentin as recommended by your doctor.

Normal Dose for Epilepsy- In Adults

Initial dose: 300mg to be taken orally on first day

300 mg to be taken orally two times a day on the second day

300mg to be taken orally thrice a day on third day

Maintenance dose: 300-600mg to be taken orally thrice a day

Maximum dose: 3600mg to be taken orally daily in 3 split doses

Maximum time gap between doses in a schedule wherein the patient is taking the medicine thrice a day should not be more than 12 hours

Note:  Gabapentin can be taken with/without food

If you have not used the half tablets (broken) within 28 days after breaking, the tablet should be disposed.

Normal Dose for Postherpetic Neuralgia – In Adults

Initial dose: 300mg to be taken orally on first day

300 mg to be taken orally two times a day on the second day

300mg to be taken orally thrice a day on third day

The dosage can be adjusted as required

Maintenance dose: 1800mg/day (600mg to be taken orally three times a day)

Note: Gabapentin can be taken with/without food

If you have not used the half tablets (broken) within 28 days after breaking, the tablet should be disposed

Gabapentin available under the brand name GRALISE(R)

Maintenance dose: GRALISE(R) should be adjusted to 1800mg to be taken orally once in a day during meal.

Recommended dosage schedule

Day 1: 300 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

Day 2: 600 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

From Day 3 to day 6: 900 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

From Day 7 to day 10: 1200 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

From Day 11 to day 14: 1500 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

Day 15: 1800 mg to be taken orally with meal in the evening

Gabapentin (enacarbil extended release tablets) are sold under brand name HORIZANT (R)

The recommended dosage – 600 mg to be taken orally twice a day

Therapy should be started at a dose of 600mg to be taken orally in the morning till 3 days of therapy and can be increased up to 600mg to be taken twice a day and 1200 mg/day on fourth day.

Normal Dose for Restless Leg Syndrome- In Adults

600mg to be taken orally once daily during 5 PM with food

The medication is used to treat mild to severe RLS in adults

The above dosage information is general dosage information that can vary from person to person depending upon his/her medical condition and age. Your doctors can advice the right dose for you.

Gabapentin- An anticonvulsant used to treat seizures

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant or an anti-epileptic medicine used to treat seizures. The generic name is Gabapentin and the brand names are Gabarone, Neurontin and Gralise. It influences the nerves and chemicals present inside our body that cause pain or seizures.

Gabapentin is used to treat nerve pain that occurs due to shingles or herpes virus in adults. The horizant brand of this medication is used to treat RLS(restless leg syndrome)

The Neurontin brand of this medication is used to treat seizures in children aged 3 years and adults as well.

Some important information

Take the right form and brand of Gabapentin as recommended by your doctor and check the medicine every time you buy a refill to make sure you got the correct form of this drug.

Check the label and read the instructions mentioned on the label carefully and inform your doctor about any other medicines you use, you medical conditions and allergies.

Avoid using this  medicine if you are suffering from

  • diabetes
  • kidney disease or if you are on dialysis
  • seizure disorder or epilepsy
  • liver disease
  • heart disease
  • history of mood disorder, depression, drug abuse, suicidal actions or thoughts
  • Suffering from RLS (if you sleep during the day as you at work in a night shift)

Some people get suicidal thoughts while using this medication. Your doctor will check your progress at regular intervals while you are using Gabapentin. Your caregivers or family members also need to be alert to monitor any changes in your mood.

Take Gabapentin as prescribed by the doctor. Do not use Gabapentin in smaller or larger amounts than recommended and also do not use the medication for a prolonged period than advised by your doctor.

Taking the Horizant brand during the day should be avoided. To get positive effects, use Horizant with food at 5.00 in the evening. Both Horizant and Gralise should be taken with food. Neurontin can be taken with/without food.

If you had broken a Neurontin tablet and used only half tablet, then take the other half at the next dose. Any broken tablet should not be kept for too long, so use the tablet as soon as you can or    within a couple of days. If you are using liquid form of this medicine, then measure the medicine using the dosing syringe enclosed with the medicine or use dose measuring cup or spoon.

Do not halt the use of Gabapentin all of a sudden, even if you feel you are well. Halting suddenly can lead to increased seizures. Ask your doctor for dose adjustment or change in dose.

Store the medicine away from moisture and light in a room temperature. Store the liquid form of medication in refrigerator but do not freeze.

If you have to undergo a urine protein lab test while you are using Gabapentin, let your laboratory staff know that you are using Gabapentin as Gabapentin can cause false positive result of urine protein test.

Common, Major and Minor side effects of Gabapentin

Well, talking about the side effects of Gabapentin, in this article we are going to discuss about the common, major and minor side effects. Let us start with the common side effects first

Common side effects

  • drowsiness
  • sedation
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • nystagmus
  • ataxia
  • viral infection
  • tremor
  • blurred vision
  • xersotomia
  • irritability
  • peripheral edema
  • diplopia
  • amblyopia

Some Major side effects that need immediate medical attention are

More Common

  • unsteadiness or clumsiness
  • uncontrolled, rolling, continous eye movements

More common effects in children

  • crying
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • behavioural problems like aggressiveness etc
  • constant change in moods
  • increase or hyperactivity in body movements
  • restlessness
  • distrust or suspiciousness
  • overacting, reacting too emotional or too quickly
  • concentration problems or in change in performance at school

Less Common

  • chills
  • cough
  • chest pain
  • memory loss
  • fever
  • irritability, depression or other changes in moods
  • swelling or pain in legs or arms
  • unusual weakness or tiredness
  • difficult or painful urination
  • swollen glands
  • breathlessness
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • sore throat
  • tarry, black stools
  • ulcers, sores or white spots in the mouth or lips

Occurrence not known

  • coma
  • dark urine
  • confusion
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • increased thirst
  • convulsions
  • joint pain
  • dizziness
  • appetite loss
  • muscle pain or ache
  • nausea
  • irritated or red eyes
  • yellow skin or eyes
  • irregular or fast heartbeat
  • decreased volume of urine
  • hive like or large swelling on eyelids, throat, tongue, feet, sex organs, hands, lips or face

Minor Side effects

Some minor side effects of Gabapentin do not need medical attention. As the body adjusts to the medication the side effects vanish with time.  Your doctor can advise you on how to reduce or prevent such side effects. If the minor side effects turn bothersome or continue to last for a longer period, consult your doctor immediately

More common

  • dementia
  • delusions
  • blurred vision
  • flu or cold like symptoms
  • shaking or trembling
  • hoarseness
  • side or lower back pain
  • swelling of feet, lower legs and hands
  • loss or lack or strength

Less Common side effects

  • body pain or aches
  • full or bloated feeling
  • vision problems
  • congestion
  • constipation
  • earache
  • excessive tearing
  • eye discharge
  • impaired vision
  • increased hunger
  • in coordination
  • frequent urination
  • indigestion
  • ringing ears
  • increased sensitivity to touch and pain
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • chest tightness
  • trouble sleeping
  • passing gas
  • trouble thinking
  • twitching
  • weight gain
  • vomiting
  • loss of strength or weakness
  • unexpected weight loss
  • tingling in feet and hands
  • dry or flushed skin
  • excess gas or air in intestines or stomach
  • decreased sexual ability of desire
  • Itching, burning or dry eyes.
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