Top 6 Things to Know About Gabapentin

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  1. Gabapentin was once only used to treat seizures, but because it calms the neurons in the brain, it is now occasionally used to treat depression and bipolar disorder and may also be effective for anxiety. Clinical studies have even suggested that gabapentin might be an effective benzodiazepine substitute for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. People who only partially respond to other mood stabilizers may benefit most from gabapentin.


    Another study found that gabapentin is effective as an adjunctive therapy in people with partial seizures whose seizures are not adequately controlled by traditional AED dosing. Furthermore, gabapentin is frequently used as an analgesic in people with chronic pain caused by kidney disease. Although gabapentin is well known for its favorable pharmacokinetics, it is only excreted through the kidneys, putting people with chronic kidney disease at risk for toxicity.

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  2. Gabapentin (the generic name for Neurontin) was approved by the FDA in 1993 and was designed to mimic the neurotransmitter GABA. Gabapentin may be available in capsule, tablet, or liquid form, as opposed to other medications that may only be available as pills. Gabapentin liquid can be stored at room temperature for up to 56 days. This can be useful if you have trouble swallowing pills.


    No matter what form your medication takes, you must strictly follow the usage and dosage recommendations. Make sure you follow your provider's instructions because abusing any type of medication can have unpleasant, occasionally dangerous, side effects.

    Usually, a full glass of water should be consumed along with gabapentin, which may also be taken with or without food. Your provider will be able to provide advice on the appropriate dosage based on your unique needs. However, you should never disregard your healthcare provider's specific recommendations. Gabapentin may be taken more effectively when taken at regular intervals.
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  3. Gabapentin can interact with other medications and dietary supplements in a number of potentially harmful ways, just like the majority of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Because of this, it's crucial to let your doctor know about any additional medications you're taking, including vitamins and supplements, in order to prevent any negative effects.


    If you are unsure whether or not gabapentin is safe to take with any other prescriptions you have, call your provider before taking a dose of gabapentin. Your medication bottle should list any possible drug interactions so that you know what to avoid.


    Furthermore, informing your provider of any other medications you are taking may allow them to remove gabapentin from the list of potential medications to try if they know it will interfere with your other prescriptions.
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  4. Gabapentin, like many prescription drugs, has the potential to cause some unwanted, but usually minor, side effects.


    Effects of gabapentin can include:

    • Drowsiness, tiredness, or weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Headaches
    • Double vision or blurred vision
    • Memory problems
    • Unwanted eye movements
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Heartburn
    • Constipation or diarrhea
    • Dry mouth
    • Increased appetite and weight gain
    • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

    These are only a few of the possible side effects of gabapentin use; if you experience any side effects that become severe or do not go away with time, you should contact your provider.

    Gabapentin may also cause the following rare but serious side effects:

    • Rashes
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
    • Hoarseness
    • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Call your provider and get medical help right away if you experience any of these more severe side effects.

    If you have been taking the medication for longer than six weeks, withdrawal symptoms could start to appear.

    Additionally, the FDA advises against using anticonvulsant medications like gabapentin and pregabalin when taking CNS depressants if you already have a respiratory condition. Pregabalin or gabapentin users who also take opioids or other drugs that depress the central nervous system may experience life-threatening breathing problems.

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  5. In addition to the usual side effects, gabapentin allergy can occur, in which case taking this medication may result in an allergic reaction.


    If you have never taken gabapentin and are unsure if you are allergic to it, it is wise to tell your doctor about any previous drug reactions you have experienced as well as any allergies you may have to certain foods, dyes, preservatives, artificial additives, or other substances. This information can help your doctor determine whether you are more likely than not to experience an allergic reaction to gabapentin.

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  6. Whereas some medications require you to avoid certain foods because they may interfere with how the medication works in your body, gabapentin may not require you to change your diet at all.


    Of course, there are times when a change is required due to unforeseen circumstances, and if this is the case for you, your provider will notify you. You should always carefully follow your provider's instructions, but gabapentin will usually allow you to continue eating normally.

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