Categories: Drugs

Side effects of gabapentin

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Discover the side effects of gabapentin.

Gabapentin is one of many drugs that, although it was created for a specific purpose, has subsequently proven very effective for a completely different one.

We say this because this antiepileptic drug has been of great help in people with neuropathic pain, thanks to its analgesic properties.

It is appropriate to clarify, however, that this is not due to a long chain of trial and error on the part of patients, but to serious medical studies that have allowed the discovery of the new potential for this drug.

Nothing better than knowing the therapeutic benefits of gabapentin, its precautions, and side effects, to better understand its importance and the effects it can produce.Side effects of gabapentinSide effects of gabapentin

What is gabapentin?

Molar mass: 171.237 g/mol

Trade name: Fanatrex, Gabarone, Gralise, Neurontin, Nupentin, Neogab

Formula: C = 9

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Half-life: 5 to 7 hours

Metabolism: practically not metabolized

Legal Status: Rx Only

Mol. weight: 171.237 g/mol

Gabapentin is part of the medications called anticonvulsants, because it has the virtue of treating seizures, by reducing the abnormal excitation of the brain. 

On the other hand, it also can relieve the discomfort of postherpetic neuralgia, since it can modify the way the body feels pain.

Although it has begun to be used successfully in some cases of neuropathic pain, the reality is that its mechanism of action has not yet been fully understood, but it seems to be related to the positive effect on the synthesis and release of the neurotransmitter GABA.

Something that has contributed to making it a highly demanded drug by patients in many countries is that it can improve sleep considerably and without the risk of addiction that benzodiazepines have.

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What is gabapentin used for?

Gabapentin, in any of its formats, is indicated primarily to control certain types of seizures experienced by people with epilepsy, since it decreases or controls abnormal excitation of the brain. 

Its prolonged-release tablet format is used in the treatment of restless legs syndrome, which is characterized by profound distress in the legs, accompanied by an urgent need to move them continuously.

Both the capsules, the tablets, or the oral solution of this medicine can be very effective in the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain in the arms and legs, which presents with numbness or tingling, as occurs with diabetic patients or with herpes, due to nerve injuries.

Another of its frequent uses is to treat and prevent the sudden sensation of heat that women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, or who have menopause, present.

In patients with neuropathic pain caused by a herniated disc that affects peripherally (arm or legs), it is widely used with good results.

Finally, it should be noted that there is no conclusive evidence to support or refute the therapeutic recommendation that gabapentin in daily doses of 1,200 to 2,400 mg relieves fibromyalgia pain.

What dose of gabapentin should be taken?

Gabapentin can be found in tablets, capsules, long-acting capsules, and oral solutions, which should always be administered following the recommendations of the prescribing physician.

There is moderate-quality evidence that gabapentin given orally at doses of 900-1200 mg daily or more may have an important effect in some people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain, who have herpes zoster, or who have diabetes.

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In any case, many health specialists are inclined to start treatment in cases of post-herpetic neuralgia and neuropathic pain, with a single dose of 300 mg, two doses of 300 mg on the second day, and three doses of 300 mg on the third day. day. This dose is then gradually increased for pain relief, up to 1,800 mg per day.

In contrast, to treat restless legs syndrome in adults, doses of 300 mg and 600 mg three times a day have been used, and for the treatment of epilepsy in children over 12 years of age, effective doses of gabapentin are 900 to 1800 mg per day, divided into three administrations. 

Precautions when using gabapentin

It is good to note that although gabapentin is very effective in controlling the symptoms of certain disorders or conditions, it cannot cure them. For this reason, the patient mustn’t suspend the medication, even if he perceives improvement or his symptoms remit, without due medical authorization.

The fact that antiepileptic drugs should not be discontinued abruptly is due to the high probability of a rebound effect, with an increase in seizure episodes. 

As gabapentin has sedative properties, it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or lack of coordination, and this could be aggravated if alcohol is consumed. Therefore, while using this medication it is necessary, for safety reasons, to avoid driving vehicles or machinery.

Concerning pediatric use, gabapentin can alter the behavior and abilities of children during the period in which it is administered. So in them, it can cause changes in mood, irritation, hyperactivity, or concentration problems. Therefore, if a child receives this medication he must have adult supervision in any activity he undertakes.

Side effects of Gabapentin

When you start treatment with gabapentin, you are more likely to experience drowsiness, which usually goes away as your body gets used to the medication. 

Side effects sometimes happen due to a combination of drugs. Gabapentin does not usually interact with other medications, but antacids, such as Maalox, can affect how well the body absorbs gabapentin. 

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A source of concern for many doctors is that gabapentin produces a very rare side effect, which is the development of suicidal ideation in patients suffering from epilepsy or some other mental disorder. This trend has been noted at a rate of 1 in 500 people using it. 

However, the most common side effects are :

•dizziness

•limb swelling

•Muscular weakness

•headaches

•tremors

•Anxiety

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•Memory problems

•Acidity

•Fever

•changes in appetite

Over the years, new uses for gabapentin have been discovered, making it a very useful medicine, as long as it is used as directed by doctors or pharmacists.

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