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Learn everything about Gabapentin side effects, uses, and dosages.
With the galloping pace of time, medical science has developed newer innovative drugs using technology. These drugs reduce the mortality rate and reduce the severity of many diseases.
Decades ago, various diseases were considered incurable, but today almost anything can be cured with modern drugs.
Although these drugs save a life, their benefits come with certain risks. The risks are nothing but side effects. Though a particular disease is cured by using certain medications, several other side effects arise. Some of these side effects may turn into serious health issues.
Gabapentin is an analog of gamma-aminobutyric acid. Gamma-aminobutyric acid acts as a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are those chemicals produced from the nerve endings and help transmit impulses from one neuron to another.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that prevents or inhibits the transmission of impulses.
Gabapentin is a drug used for controlling seizures, post-therapeutic Neuralgia, restless leg syndrome, and many other health conditions. Gabapentin belongs to the class of medications called anticonvulsants.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that is widely used to normalize the function of impulse transmission through to the nerves. This, in turn, helps to cure epileptic seizures.
Children above 3 years of age and adults can use them. Gabapentin is also used to treat nerve pain caused by the herpes virus or shingles in adults. Different brand names are available for Gabapentin, each having slightly different functions like Horizant, Neurontin.
Chemical nature of Gabapentin
- The chemical name of Gabapentin is 1-(aminomethyl)cyclohexane acetic acid.
- The molecular formula is C9H17NO2
- The molecular weight is 17 1.24.
- Gabapentin is a white crystalline solid whose pka value is 3.7.
- It can dissolve in both acidic and basic aqueous solutions.
Uses of Gabapentin
To treat seizures
Seizure is a disruption in neuronal cell activity. It may result in abnormal behavior and sometimes result in loss of consciousness. Gabapentin is an effective medication for treating partial seizures.
It is an anticonvulsant medication. It helps to calm down the excited neuronal system and control seizures.
To treat nerve pain
Many of us develop chickenpox in our childhood days. The virus that causes chickenpox usually remains dormant in the dorsal root ganglia of the spinal cord, but sometimes, it may become activated and cause a severe condition called shingles.
Shingles appear as rashes like an allergic reaction, accompanied by nerve pain.
To treat restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Gabapentin is an effective medication to treat restless leg syndrome. Restless legs syndrome mainly refers to uncontrolled movement of legs along with itching, pulling, burning sensations.
Brand name of Gabapentin and its respective uses
For commercial use, Gabapentin is known by several names. Each brand of Gabapentin has different benefits. So any individual should take the medication only if prescribed by a doctor.
Gabapentin is a sensitive drug as it directly interferes with the working of neurotransmitters. Wrong use of Gabapentin drugs can lead to fatal consequences.
The incorrect usage can affect brain functioning and the nervous system, so consulting the doctor and following their advice as per the prescription is correct and better.
The three most commercial brand names of Gabapentin are:
- This drug is used mainly to treat nerve pain.
- It also cures restless legs syndrome.
- One should follow the medication suggested by the doctor for using this drug.
- The time for taking the drug generally depends on an individual’s circadian rhythm.
- It is usually taken once daily with food for several days.
- One should swallow this medication entirely instead of chewing or grinding it.
- Taking this medication regularly will improve its efficiency.
- Before discontinuing, one should also concert with the doctor because it may happen so that that sudden discontinuation will lead to worse results.
- This drug is used mainly to control seizures.
- It is also used to relieve nerve pain and shingles
- One should take the Neurontin tablet following the dosage suggested by the doctor.
- The dosage varies from child to adult.
- For children, the dosage is often based on their weights.
- A proper schedule should be maintained for taking the drug, and one should stick to it.
- This drug is used to treat nerve pain caused by shingles.
- The pain arises from shingles.
- Shingles is a painful skin rash due to Herpes zoster infection in adult patients.
- This condition is often called post-therapeutic Neuralgia.
- One should not crush the tablet and swallow it as a whole.
- The doctor determines the dosage of the drug based on the body’s response.
- During the first two weeks of treatment, the dosage amount may be increased gradually.
- It is generally taken along with the evening meal.
The benefits of Gabapentin do not come alone; along with its numerous benefits, it also has some severe side effects. Taking Gabapentin for a long time can lead to several other health issues.
Let us now discover the side effects of Gabapentin.
Allergic reactions to Gabapentin
An individual may be allergic to Gabapentin. An allergic individual will show the following symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Shallow breathing
- Hives or Urticaria on skin
- Swelling in face
Cases in which an individual will be allergic to Gabapentin
- If one is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or breathing problems.
- Renal failure or if an individual is on dialysis
- Suffering from diabetes
- Depression or any other mental health issues.
- Drug addiction or taking any other narcotics
- Suffering from liver and heart disease
Major gabapentin side-effects
1. Respiratory problems
Long-term use of Gabapentin can lead to severe health and respiratory problems. In the year 2019 food and drug administration(FDA) have warned people about the effect of Gabapentin on respiratory issues.
Those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma are more vulnerable. They should consult with a doctor before taking any gabapentin medication.
2. Mental health issues
Gabapentin can weave a loom of doom in our minds. Studies have revealed that the use of Gabapentin can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Side effects of Gabapentin include evoking suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
This medication adversely affects our mental health and evokes the dark side of our minds. One may also experience frequent panic attacks. This, in turn, is reflected by the changing behavioral patterns and actions.
3. Liver abnormalities
The long-term use of Gabapentin can also affect the liver. Due to improper liver functioning, there may be an accumulation of Bilirubin in our body. Bilirubin is responsible for the yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Along with that, one may also notice dark urine and light-colored stools. The liver produces several digestive juices, and reduced liver efficacy creates digestive problems.
4. Renal issues
Gabapentin causes water retention in the body, as a result of which there may be weight gain.
Due to prolonged use of Gabapentin, there may also arise kidney disease. Kidney functioning is also adversely affected due to the use of Gabapentin.
Other common gabapentin side effects
It is hard to find any drugs without any side effects, but it is found that if their benefit weighs more than the side effects, we readily consume them.
Gabapentin similarly also has some side effects, which eventually go away upon discontinuation of the drug. Some of the most common side effects are:
- The use of Gabapentin can make one feel fatigued easily
- Weak or shallow breathing
- Dizziness, headache, and trouble sleeping become common symptoms
- Nausea which is often accompanied by vomiting
- Slightly increased body temperature and feverish feeling
- Memory loss and other mental health issues may also arise
- Weight gain occurs due to impaired renal functioning and water retention
- Muscle coordination and movement problems
- Visual difficulty might arise, which includes double vision, blurred vision.
- Digestive issues can also occur, including upper stomach pain
- Dry mouth and change in voice
- Sore throat and swollen glands
- Affect balance or muscle movement
Symptoms gradually fade away when one stops taking the medication. But if it continues, one needs emergency medical attention.
Gabapentin and drug interaction
Before taking any other medication, one should be aware of their previous history of drugs. Drugs interact with one another, and the consequences sometimes can be fatal.
So before taking Gabapentin, one should share with the doctor the other drugs they are taking or under any medical treatment. Gabapentin may act over-the-counter medications and result in severe drug reactions.
Many products or drugs interact with Gabapentin. The interaction of Gabapentin and other chemicals can lead to severe drug reactions in our bodies. Some of the most common chemicals that affect Gabapentin are:
- Antihistaminic drugs
- Medications for depression such as amitriptyline, sertraline
- Magnesium and Aluminium containing antacids
- Painkillers like morphine
- Muscle relaxants
- Certain medications for seizure control like phenytoin
- The caffeine that is present in tea, coffee
- Losartan found in hypertension medications
- Mefloquine, an antimalarial drug.
Effects of Gabapentin drug interactions on health
Gabapentin can interact with other drugs and cause severe health conditions. One should seek immediate medical help if the following adverse effects arise:
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Trouble breathing
- Bluish appearance in lips, fingers, and toes
- Life-threatening breathing problems.
These are the most common adverse reactions of Gabapentin with other drugs. One should avoid drinking alcohol when one is under such medication.
Before new or worsening symptoms, one must move to a healthcare provider and seek emergency medical help.
Gabapentin side effects on children (not for below 3 years of age)
Children are often prescribed Gabapentin to deal with the same issues as adults. But the amount of dosage is significantly less and depends on age and weight.
For children below three years of age, the drug is too potent. The side effects are the same as that of the adults. The adverse impact on pediatric patients are:
- Behavioral changes
- Concentration issues.
- Restless and aggressive behavior
- Affects balance or eye movements.
One should seek emergency medical attention if the following conditions persist in children taking Gabapentin for long.
Consequences of stopping Gabapentin suddenly
Stopping any medications suddenly is very dangerous for the patient. When the body is under any medication, and the drug is suddenly stopped without the advice of a doctor, then the body may respond differently.
Instead of lowering the symptoms, they become much more prominent. Sometimes withdrawal symptoms become evident.
Stopping Gabapentin increases the risk of seizures for individuals. For example, if an individual suddenly stops using Gabapentin, the individual faces more frequent seizures instead of lowering the seizures. The best way out is to seek medical treatment.
Every medication shows its efficacy based on its dosages. Dosages are determined by the potency of the drug and the frequency in which it is taken. Following the prescription label increases the efficacy of the medicine and minimizes its side effects.
The form of the medication also determines the dosage. Starting dose is generally minimum, but they gradually increase as the body gets adjusted to higher dosages.
Tablets, oral solution, capsules other various forms in which Gabapentin is available in markets. Usage of Gabapentin can also result in unusual medical test results.
So an individual must inform the doctor during treatment procedure that he is on gabapentin medication to avoid confusion of results in specific medical tests.
Tablets are the most common form in which these drugs are primarily available. The gabapentin brand name Gralise is available in 300 and 600 mg tablets. Neurontin is mainly available as 600 to 800 mg tablets.
Gabapentin as an oral solution
The oral solution of gabapentin is 50 mg per ml. This is mainly used for those who have swallowing problems. Neurontin is the brand name in which Gabapentin is available primarily as an oral solution.
One should use the medicine dose-measuring device and measure liquid medicine carefully before consuming it.
Gelatin capsules of Gabapentin are available in 100, 300, and 400 mg quantities.
Gabapentin Enacarbil is the precursor of Gabapentin. The brand name in which it is available is Horizant. It is also called the prodrug of Gabapentin. The dosage is 300 to 600 mg.
One should strictly follow the indication prescribed by a doctor while taking this drug.
Gabapentin – Narcotic or controlled substance?
Gabapentin is neither narcotic nor addictive. It is not tagged as a controlled substance in most places. It is even not included under opioid medication. Gabapentin misuse and abuse have been reported in very minimal numbers.
Gabapentin and pregnancy
- Gabapentin does not have much effect on pregnancy.
- It generally does not harm the unborn baby. But before taking the medication during pregnancy, one must consult the doctor.
- The healthcare provider will understand the effect of Gabapentin on the baby and the mother.
Gabapentin and breast-feeding
- Gabapentin can pass through breast milk to the newborn child.
- So a breastfeeding mother should be careful and take medical advice before consuming Gabapentin.
Missed dose of Gabapentin
One may forget to take the medication at the right scheduled time.
- If the delay is concise, say for a few minutes or 1 hour, they can take the medication immediately when remembered.
- If there is not much time difference between the next missed doses, the patient should only take the next dose.
- One should not take more than one dose to catch up with the sequence and schedule of dosage.
Medications are essential to cure any serious health problem. But it is vital to be aware of the side effects of any medication or drug.
Following the doctor’s prescription and taking the complete course of medication within the scheduled time will reduce side effects.
We may have to endure the side effects to enjoy the benefits, but never hesitate to contact the doctor if it becomes severe.
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