Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant sold under the brand name Neurontin, is used to treat seizures and neuropathic pain. It is often considered as a first line of therapy to patients with diabetic neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia. With more than 46 million prescriptions, gabapentin is one of the most common medications in the US.
- How does gabapentin work?
- How long does gabapentin take to work?
- How long does gabapentin stay in your system?
- What are the side effects of gabapentin?
- What drugs should you avoid taking with gabapentin?
- How do you avoid gaining weight while taking gabapentin?
- What is the right gabapentin dosage for me?
- Can you drink alcohol while taking gabapentin?
- Is gabapentin addictive?
- Is it safe to take gabapentin for sleep?
1. How does gabapentin work?
Researchers are not entirely sure how gabapentin works. However, they believe based on several studies that gabapentin binds itself to calcium channels in the central nervous system (CNS). This binding decreases neurotransmitter (chemical substance released at the end of a nerve fiber) release in the CNS as a result of reduced calcium influx. This mechanism is believed to be responsible for relieving nerve pain and reducing the risk of seizures.
2. How long does gabapentin take to work?
Due to the nature of the drug, patients often are eager to know how soon they can expect results. Unfortunately, every patient will respond differently to gabapentin, and there is no one straightforward answer. Peak concentrations of the drug will occur within a couple of hours of taking it, and some effects may be felt within a week. However, for many patients, it takes up to two weeks for relief from pain and frequent seizures to occurs.
3. How long does gabapentin stay in your system?
Just like the length of time, it takes for the drug to work the time it takes to leave a patient’s system will also vary. Typically, in adult patients, the half-life of gabapentin is between 5 and 7 hours. This means that after that time, the concentration of gabapentin in the body will be reduced by half. It can take several half-lives for gabapentin to leave the body entirely. In general, after 1 to 2 days, there will be no gabapentin left in your system.
4. What are the side effects of gabapentin?
Gabapentin can potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.
Common side effects:
- Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Minor difficulty walking
Severe side effects:
- Chest pain
- Blurry vision
- Memory loss
- Shortness of breath
- Urinary problems
If you experience any of these serious side effects, you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Abilify.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
5. What drugs should you avoid taking with gabapentin?
Some of the most known interactions with gabapentin are losartan, ethacrynic acid, caffeine, phenytoin, mefloquine, magnesium oxide, cimetidine, naproxen, and morphine. Even if you are not taking any of these, you need to speak with your doctor about any other medications or supplements you are taking before beginning treatment with gabapentin.
6. How do you avoid gaining weight while taking gabapentin?
Patients who have been prescribed gabapentin are often concerned about weight gain as a side effect. However, they should note, weight gain is a very rare side effect, observed in less than 5% of patients. In cases where weight gain does occur, it is typically a result of an increased appetite or reduced exercise caused by the drug. Some ways to avoid weight gain include eating smaller meals throughout the day, exercising when possible, and eating low-calorie snacks like fruit to help curb hunger.
7. What is the right gabapentin dosage for me?
The proper dosage of gabapentin will vary between patients and is based on several factors. You should always follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions on the label. That said, the typical dose for adults is a single 300mg dose takien in the evening. This is followed by adjustments given by your doctor as needed. However, doses will typically not exceed 1800mg per day.
8. Can you drink alcohol while taking gabapentin?
It is not considered safe to drink alcohol while taking gabapentin. If you drink alcohol with gabapentin the side effects may become amplified. The combination may lead to dizziness, extreme fatigue, and difficulty focusing.
9. Is gabapentin addictive?
Gabapentin is often considered to be a less addictive alternative to opioids. However, gabapentin addiction and abuse still can occur. This is especially true in patients with a predisposition towards addiction or a history of substance abuse. If you are concerned about the addictiveness of gabapentin you should speak with your doctor before taking it.
10. Is it safe to take gabapentin for sleep?
Gabapentin’s primary use is in treating seizures and neuropathic pain. However, in some cases, it may also be used for treating insomnia. It is considered to be safe and effective as a treatment for insomnia, but you must speak with your doctor before taking it as a sleep aid, even if you’ve already been prescribed gabapentin for other symptoms.
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