Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a medication prescribed to treat seizures. It can be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat epilepsy in children age 12 or older or adults. Gabapentin is also used to treat pain caused by shingles. It can also be prescribed to treat fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome (RLS), or even to relieve hot flashes.
The drug was originally approved under the brand name Neurontin, created by the drug manufacturer Pfizer, and is now available in a generic that is made by several other drug companies. There is also an extended-release form available under the brand name Horizant.
If you are prescribed gabapentin, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your doctor. It is taken by mouth with or without food, depending on the direction from your doctor. The dosage prescribed is based upon your specific needs and also response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight.
Gabapentin: Side Effects Video
Common Side Effects of Gabapentin
Sometimes doctors will gradually increase your dosage of Gabapentin to minimize side effects. Taking the first pill at bedtime can also help to minimize side effects. The most common side include:
- Memory loss
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty speaking
- Viral infections
- Double vision
- Unusual eye movements
- Jerky movements
Serious Side Effects of Gabapentin
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased seizures
- Fever, swollen glands, body aches or other flu-like symptoms
- Skin rash, easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
- Upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Chest pain, irregular heart beat, shortness of breath
- Confusion, nausea or vomiting, swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual
- New or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing
- Rapid back and forth movement of your eyes
Gabapentin Side Effects in Children
Some side effects are more common among children taking this medication. Call your doctor immediately if your child has any of these serious side effects:
- Changes in behavior
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Acing restless, hostile or aggressive
Some less-serious side effects include:
- Dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, fatigue
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation
- Blurred vision
- Breast swelling
- Dry mouth
- Loss of balance or coordination
This medication works best when kept in your body at a consistent level. Because of this, it’s very important to consistently take the pill at the same time every day. If you are taking this medication three times a day, do not go more than 12 hours between doses.
Gabapentin does have adverse effects with some medications. Antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium may interfere with the absorption of it. If you need to take an antacid, wait at least two hours after taking the gabapentin.
Drinking alcohol can increase side effects of gabapentin, and is not recommended. If you drink alcohol regularly, it is important to tell your doctor. You should also tell your doctor if you are taking any opiates, which may increase drowsiness or dizziness when combined with gabapentin.
There have been reports of people abusing gabapentin because it can give users feelings of euphoria. In fact, a 2014 report found that almost 25 percent of people in drug rehabilitation clinics reported use of gabapentin.
While gabapentin can be a powerful medication in helping you to feel better, it does come with many side effects and has the potential to become addictive. Take the medication exactly as directed, and keep an open dialogue with your doctor as you progress with treatment.
What Questions Do You Have About Gabapentin?
Tell us in the comments section below!
What topics should we cover next?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Are you on Facebook?
After having my neck broke in 1982 was the first I had ever heard of gabapentin but with all the phantom pains and burning and stinging that moved all over my body,gabapentin was a life saver.
Then in 2005 I broke my neck again in the very same place c3-c4. But I had no i surance until 2009 and by the time I had my cervical fusion it had to be from c3-c7 and gabapentin has helped me very much but I’ve been thru so many meds for pain and inflammation I cannot remember the names of all the meds I’ve had to take.
But now in 2022 I only take gabapentin and no opioids at all. Unfortunately between having my neck broke two different times,I had to have 2 left rotator-cuff surgeries one in 1995 and then again in 1999. And now I have another complete rotator-cuff tear in my left shoulder again and I’m left-handed so I’ve had alot of pain each and every day 24/7 days of my life and I’m only taking Tylenol and gabapentin.
But I worry,what if something happened in society and I couldn’t get my gabapentin filled as needed every month? I once forgot my gabapentin going on a weeks vacation and it was terrible because I already suffer from panic attacks and severe anxiety. Needless to say the vacation was cut short to get back home to my medication. This is why I don’t take opioids and I’ve been prescribed to go to pain clinics but after a month 2 different times I stopped going.
Withdrawals are real and if I didn’t have my gabapentin I would eventually go into withdrawals and it scares me. So I’ve decided to lower my dosage at least 400 mg over every 6 week period. So far I’m doing okay,sometimes my skin does sting and itch but I have felt worse things before.
So,I hope my story isn’t an isolated situation. And I hope others may benefit from my story.