Gabapentin is used to relieve excess excitement in the brain, most notably the type of excess energy or excitement that leads to restless leg syndrome or seizures. This medication is used to help control these conditions, but cannot be used to cure them. You should continue to take your medication, even if your symptoms have been eliminated. If you suddenly stop taking Gabapentin you may suffer from withdrawal effects. If you need to stop taking this medication for any reason, talk with your doctor about setting an appropriate schedule to step down from your dosage size to eliminate these effects.
Indications and Usage
Gabapentin is sold under the brand names Horizant and Neurontin. These medications are available in oral suspension, tablet and capsule form and are used to help prevent seizures for those who suffer from epilepsy, and may be used to relieve the pain of protherpetic neuralgia. This is a condition that occurs after the body has been attacked by the shingles virus. In some cases, the extended release form of Gabapentin is used to relieve restless leg syndrome. In less common cases Gabapentin may be used to treat diabetic neuropathy or hot flashes as well.
You will need to take your medication in evenly spaced doses throughout your day. Your doctor will issue a dosing schedule for you, which will be based on the nature and severity of your condition. You cannot use extended release Gabapentin tablets to replace other forms of this medication. You will also need to make sure that you do not allow more than 12 hours to pass between your Gabapentin doses. Tablets are often taken around 5 p.m. and should be taken with food. Do not crush or chew your tablets when you take them. If you are told to take half of a tablet as part of your dosage, make sure you divide the tablet along the score mark. You can have your pharmacist perform this task for you if you find it difficult to break the pills evenly. Throw out any split pills that were not used within several days of having them broken.
Adults using Gabapentin to treat postherpetic neuralgia are typically given an initial dose of 300 mg daily, which is increased to 600 mg per day on day two, 900 mg on day three and so forth until the proper dosing level is achieved. Dosing should not exceed 1800 mg per day. Adults and children over 12 will be given 900-1800 mg per day in divided doses. These doses are often administered three times a day. Initial doses are usually around 300-400 mg, while follow up doses may be around 600-800 mg. Doses for this condition should not exceed 2400 mg for regular use and 3600 mg for short term use.
Children ages 3-12 using Gabapentin to treat epilepsy will be given 10-15 mg per day in divided doses. This may be increased to 25-35 mg per day as necessary. Doses should not exceed 50 mg per day in this case. Children under the age of 3 should not use Gabapentin.
Those suffering from renal impairment should talk with their doctor about the appropriate dosing level for their bodies. It may be difficult to clear Gabapentin from your system in a timely fashion, making it necessary to take smaller doses or expand the timing between doses. Your doctor will inform you if any of these precautions are necessary based on your condition. Elderly patients are more likely to suffer from renal impairment while on Gabapentin, and may need to adjust their dosage to prevent this risk as well.
Gabapentin is not recommended for use when you are pregnant. This drug is rated in category C due to the fact that no laboratory studies have been performed on human subjects, though studies are currently in place which will help better evaluate this risk. Talk with your doctor about this risk if you become pregnant while using Gabapentin so you can evaluate whether or not it is safe to continue your prescription.
Gabapentin Side Effects
Twenty-eight percent of Gabapentin users report suffering from dizziness at some point during the length of their prescription. Additional side effects which are commonly reported in Gabapentin users are drowsiness which is reported by 21.4 percent of users, coordination problems reported by 12.5 percent, body infections reported by 10.9. percent of users, nausea in 8.4 percent, swelling of the limbs or fluid retention in the limbs in 8.3 percent of users, and unusual movements of the eye which are reported by 8.3 percent of users. These Gabapentin side effects are not dangerous, but if they become especially bothersome you should speak to your doctor. An alternative dosing regimen may be necessary to help ease your symptoms.
Other side effects, occurring in 7-1 percent of users, include shakiness, double vision, blurred vision, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, dry mouth, constipation, increased appetite, weight gain, bronchitis, accidental injury, sore throat, hyperactivity, changes in thinking, nervousness, speech problems, memory loss, indigestion, gas, back pain, twitching, hyperglycemia and pink eye. Talk to your doctor if any of these side effects occur to determine whether or not your condition requires further treatment. If your changes in thinking begin to develop into suicidal thoughts or other thoughts about self-harm, get help right away.
Drugs known to interact with Gabapentin include hydrocodone, morphine and naproxen. Let your doctor know if you regularly use any of these substances, and inform any medical professionals that you are seeing about your Gabapentin use to avoid a potentially dangerous reaction. This includes your dentist or any other professional that may be administering pain medication for another condition you are treating. Let your doctor know about any supplements or over the counter medications you regularly use as well so they can inform you if they can be used with Gabapentin.
Gabapentin will affect the way you think and can affect the way you see as well. Until you know how your body is going to react to these changes, do not do anything that will require you to see clearly and commit your full attention to the task. This includes driving. You will also need to avoid taking antacids within two hours before or after taking your prescription as this can make it difficult for your body to absorb Gabapentin properly, which will increase the risk of these conditions.