What is gabapentin?

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Generic Name: Gabapentin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is gabapentin used for?

Gabapentin is used with other medications to prevent and control seizures. It is also used to relieve nerve pain following shingles (a painful rash due to herpes zosterinfection) in adults. Gabapentin is known as an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by yourhealth care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

Gabapentin may also be used to treat other nerve pain conditions (such as diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia) and restless legs syndrome.

How should I take gabapentin?

Take gabapentin by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor. Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight.

If you are taking the tablets and your doctor directs you to split the tablet in half, take the other half-tablet at your next scheduled dose. Discard half tablets if not used within several days of splitting them. If you are taking the capsules, swallow them whole with plenty of water.

It is very important to follow your doctor’s dosing instructions exactly. During the first few days of treatment, your doctor may gradually increase your dose so your body can adjust to the medication. To minimize side effects, take the very first dose at bedtime.

Take gabapentin regularly to get the most benefit from it. This drug works best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take gabapentin at evenly spaced intervals at the same time(s) each day. If you are taking gabapentin 3 times a day to control seizures, do not let more than 12 hours pass between doses because your seizures may increase.

Do not take gabapentin more often or increase your dose without consulting your doctor. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may increase.

Do not stop taking gabapentin without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.

Antacids containing aluminum or magnesium may interfere with the absorption of this medication. Therefore, if you are also taking an antacid, it is best to take gabapentin at least 2 hours after taking the antacid.

Different forms of gabapentin (such as immediate-release, sustained-release, enacarbil sustained-release) are absorbed in the body differently. Do not switch from one form to the other without consulting your doctor.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

How do I store gabapentin?

Gabapentin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store gabapentin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of gabapentin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush gabapentin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using gabapentin?

Before taking gabapentin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to gabapentin, any other medications, or any of the inactive ingredients in the type of gabapentin you plan to take. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the inactive ingredients.
  • you should know that gabapentin is available in different forms that may be prescribed for different uses. Ask your doctor to be sure that you are not taking more than one product that contains gabapentin.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: hydrocodone (in Hydrocet, in Vicodin, others), medications that make you feel dizzy or drowsy, morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, others), and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • if you are taking antacids such as Maalox or Mylanta, take them at least 2 hours before you take gabapentin tablets, capsules, or solution.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease. If you will be taking the extended-release tablets, also tell your doctor if you need to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking gabapentin, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking gabapentin.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy, may slow your thinking, and may cause loss of coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you, and your doctor agrees that it is safe for you to begin these activities.
  • if you are giving gabapentin to your child, you should know that your child’s behavior and mental abilities may change while he or she is taking gabapentin. Your child may have sudden changes in mood, become hostile or hyperactive, have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, or be drowsy or clumsy. Have your child avoid activities that could be dangerous, such as riding a bicycle, until you know how gabapentin affects him or her.
  • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this medication.
  • you should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways and you may become suicidal (thinking about harming or killing yourself or planning or trying to do so) while you are taking gabapentin for the treatment of epilepsy, mental illness, or other conditions. A small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anticonvulsants such as gabapentin to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment. Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication. There is a risk that you may experience changes in your mental health if you take an anticonvulsant medication such as gabapentin, but there may also be a risk that you will experience changes in your mental health if your condition is not treated. You and your doctor will decide whether the risks of taking an anticonvulsant medication are greater than the risks of not taking the medication. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: panic attacks; agitation or restlessness; new or worsening irritability, anxiety, or depression; acting on dangerous impulses; difficulty falling or staying asleep; aggressive, angry, or violent behavior; mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood); talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life; withdrawing from friends and family; preoccupation with death and dying; giving away prized possessions; or any other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.

Is it safe to take gabapentin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of gabapentin?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; fever; swollen glands; painful sores in or around your eyes or mouth; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, depression, or if you feel agitated, hostile, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • increased seizures;
  • fever, swollen glands, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • skin rash, easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
  • upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • chest pain, irregular heart rhythm, feeling short of breath;
  • confusion, nausea and vomiting, swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;
  • rapid back and forth movement of your eyes.

Some side effects are more likely in children taking gabapentin.Contact your doctor if the child taking this medication has any of the following side effects:

  • changes in behavior;
  • memory problems;
  • trouble concentrating;
  • acting restless, hostile, or aggressive.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, tired feeling;
  • nausea, diarrhea, constipation;
  • blurred vision;
  • headache;
  • breast swelling;
  • dry mouth;
  • loss of balance or coordination.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with gabapentin?

Gabapentin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Taking gabapentin with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can worsen these effects. Ask your doctor before taking gabapentin with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with this medicine, especially:

  • hydrocodone, (Lortab, Vicodin and others);
  • morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Oramorph, and others);
  • naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox, and others).

Does food or alcohol interact with gabapentin?

Gabapentin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with gabapentin?

Gabapentin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Depression, history of;
  • Mood or mental changes, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Kidney disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Gabapentin for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Epilepsy:
Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses. If necessary, the dose may be increased using 300 mg or 400 mg capsules three times a day up to 1800 mg/day. Dosages up to 2400 mg/day have been well tolerated in long-term clinical studies. Doses of 3600 mg/day have also been administered to a small number of patients for a relatively short duration, and have been well tolerated. The maximum time between doses in the three times a day schedule should not exceed 12 hours.
The safety and effectiveness of gabapentin available under the trade name Gralise (R) or Horizant (R) in patients with epilepsy has not been studied.

Usual Adult Dose for Postherpetic Neuralgia:
Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.
The dose may be titrated up as needed for pain relief to a daily dose of 1800 mg.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses.
Efficacy was demonstrated in clinical studies over a range of 1800 mg/day to 3600 mg/day. However, no additional benefit was demonstrated from the use of doses over 1800 mg/day.
Gabapentin available under the trade name Gralise (R):
Maintenance dose: Gralise (R) should be titrated to 1800 mg orally once daily with the evening meal.
Recommended titration schedule:
Day 1: 300 mg orally with the evening meal
Day 2: 600 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 3 through 6: 900 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 7 through 10: 1200 mg orally with the evening meal
Days 11 through 14: 1500 mg orally with the evening meal
Day 15: 1800 mg orally with the evening meal
Gralise (R) is not interchangeable with other gabapentin products because of differing pharmacokinetic profiles that affect the frequency of administration.
Gabapentin enacarbil extended release tablets available under the trade name Horizant (R):
The recommended dosage is 600 mg orally twice daily. Therapy should be initiated at a dose of 600 mg orally in the morning for 3 days of therapy, then increased to 600 mg twice daily (1,200 mg/day) on day four.
Gabapentin enacarbil extended release tablets available under the trade name Horizant (R) and gabapentin are not interchangeable.

Usual Adult Dose for Restless Legs Syndrome
Gabapentin enacarbil available under the trade name Horizant (R):
600 mg orally once daily with food at about 5 PM

What is the dose of Gabapentin for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Epilepsy
Less than 3 years: Effectiveness has not been established.
Greater than or equal to 3 and less than 12 years:
Starting Dose: ranges from 10 to 15 mg/kg/day in 3 divided doses.
Effective Dose: reached by upward titration over a period of approximately 3 days. The effective dose of gabapentin in patients 5 years of age and older is 25 to 35 mg/kg/day and given in divided doses (three times a day). The effective dose in pediatric patients ages 3 and 4 years is 40 mg/kg/day and given in divided doses (three times a day). Gabapentin may be administered as the oral solution, capsule, or tablet, or using combinations of these formulations. Dosages up to 50 mg/kg/day have been well tolerated in a long term clinical study. The maximum time interval between doses should not exceed 12 hours.
Greater than 2 years:
Initial dose: 300 mg orally on day one, 300 mg orally twice a day on day two, then 300 mg orally 3 times a day on day three.
Maintenance dose: 900 to 1800 mg orally in 3 divided doses. If necessary, the dose may be increased using 300 mg or 400 mg capsules three times a day up to 1800 mg/day. Dosages up to 2400 mg/day have been well tolerated in long term clinical studies. Doses of 3600 mg/day have also been administered to a small number of patients for a relatively short duration, and have been well tolerated. The maximum time between doses in the three times a day schedule should not exceed 12 hours.

How is gabapentin available?

Gabapentin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Capsule, Oral: 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg
Miscellaneous, Oral: 300 MG, 600 MG
Solution, Oral: 250 mg/5 mL (5 mL, 6 mL, 470 mL, 473 mL)
Tablet, Oral: 300 mg, 600 mg, 800 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of gabapentin , take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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