Why is Gabapentin prescribed?
Gabapentin has two uses. First, it may be prescribed with other medications to treat partial seizures (the type in which symptoms are limited). It can be used whether or not the seizures eventually become general and result in loss of consciousness.
Second, it can be used to relieve the burning nerve pain that sometimes persists for months or even years after an attack of shingles (herpes zoster).
Most important fact about Gabapentin
Take Gabapentin exactly as directed by your doctor. To effectively control your seizures, it is important that you take Gabapentin 3 times a day, approximately every 8 hours. You should not go longer than 12 hours without a dose of medication.
How should you take Gabapentin?
Do not increase or decrease dosage of Gabapentin without your doctor’s approval; and do not suddenly stop taking it, as this may cause an increase in the frequency of your seizures. If you are taking an antacid such as Maalox, take Gabapentin at least 2 hours after the antacid.
You may take Gabapentin with or without food.
–If you miss a dose…
Try not to allow more than 12 hours to pass between doses. Do not double doses.
Store capsules and tablets at room temperature. Keep the oral solution refrigerated.
What side effects may occur?
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Gabapentin.
When taken for epilepsy, more common side effects may include:
Blurred, dimmed, or double vision, bronchitis (in children), dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, fever (in children), involuntary eye movement, itchy, runny nose, lack of muscular coordination, nausea, tremor, viral infection (in children), vomiting, weight increase (in children)
When taken for nerve pain, more common side effects may include:
Accidental injury, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, infection, lack of muscular coordination, nausea, swelling in arms and legs, vomiting, weakness
A wide variety of uncommon and rare side effects have also been reported. If you develop any new or unusual symptoms while taking Gabapentin, be sure to let your doctor know.
Why should Gabapentin not be prescribed?
You should not take Gabapentin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it.
Special warnings about Gabapentin
Gabapentin causes some people to become drowsy and less alert. Combining it with morphine makes this more likely. Do not drive or operate dangerous machinery or participate in any hazardous activity that requires full mental alertness until you are certain Gabapentin does not have this effect on you.
In children, Gabapentin occasionally triggers behavioral problems such as unstable emotions, hostility, aggression, hyperactivity, and lack of concentration. However, such problems (if they occur) are usually mild.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any kidney problems or are on hemodialysis, as your doctor will need to adjust your dosage of Gabapentin.
Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs.
Possible food and drug interactions when taking Gabapentin
If Gabapentin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either can be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Gabapentin with the following:
Antacids such as Maalox
Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin)
Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin)
Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
The effects of Gabapentin on pregnant women have not been adequately studied, although birth defects have occurred in babies whose mothers took an antiepileptic medication while they were pregnant. The drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. This medication may appear in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. It should be used by mothers who nurse their babies only if its benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
Adults and Children 12 Years and Over
The recommended starting dose is 300 milligrams three times a day. After that, the usual daily dosage ranges from 900 to 1,800 milligrams divided into 3 doses.
Children 3 to 12 Years of Age
Daily dosage is calculated according to the child’s weight. The usual starting dosage is 10 to 15 milligrams per 2.2 pounds. Dosage is then increased over a period of three days to 40 milligrams per 2.2 pounds for children aged 3 and 4, and 25 to 35 milligrams per 2.2 pounds for children aged 5 and over. The total daily dosage is taken as 3 smaller doses throughout the day.
PAIN FOLLOWING A SHINGLES ATTACK
Treatment typically starts with a single 300-milligram dose on the first day, two 300-milligram doses on the second day, and three 300-milligram doses on the third day. If necessary, the doctor may increase the daily total to as much as 1,800 milligrams, divided into three doses., Whether you are taking Gabapentin for epilepsy or pain, the doctor will lower the dose if you have poor kidney function. Also, if Gabapentin is discontinued or another drug is added to therapy, your doctor will do this gradually, over a 1-week period.
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical treatment immediately.