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Gabapentin

(GA-buh-pen-tin)

For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain that occurs after having shingles), seizures in people with epilepsy, and restless legs syndrome

Disclaimer

The content on this page is not medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage are right for you.

Last updatedJuly 27, 2021

Gabapentin

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug taken to manage postherpetic neuralgia—burning or stabbing pain in the skin—a long-term symptom of shingles.

It is also used to control certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy, and to treat restless legs syndrome.

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Brand name

Neurontin, Horizant, Gralise
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Rx or OTC

Available by prescription only

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When & How

  • Gabapentin is usually taken 3 times a day. Dosing should be evenly spaced, with no more than 12 hours between doses.
  • Take gabapentin with or without food.
  • Your doctor might start you on a low dose of gabapentin, and then gradually increase it over time.
  • Take gabapentin exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
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Do’s

  • If you are taking antacids for heartburn or other stomach issues, take them at least 2 hours before a dose of gabapentin.
  • Continue to take as prescribed by your doctor, even if you feel well.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take as soon as you remember, unless it is almost time for your next dose (do not double your regular dose).
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Don’ts

  • If taking an extended-release tablet, do not cut, crush, or chew the tablet
  • Gabapentin may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how gabapentin affects you. Alcohol may increase these effects.
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Discuss with your doctor

  • If you are allergic to gabapentin or any other medication
  • Any prescription or nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products you are currently taking, especially if you are taking a medication that makes you dizzy or drowsy
  • If you are taking gabapentin for postherpetic neuralgia, tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.
  • If you experience changes in your mental health or have thoughts of suicide during treatment.
  • If your child is taking gabapentin, talk to their doctor if they develop new behavioral problems, aggression, restlessness, irritability, concentration problems, or changes in school performance.
  • If you have or have ever had lung or kidney disease
  • If you are taking extended-release tablets, tell your doctor if your work schedule requires you to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, become pregnant while taking gabapentin, or if you are breastfeeding
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking gabapentin
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What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant, which helps decrease abnormal neuron excitement in the brain. It is used to control certain seizures in people with epilepsy.

Gabapentin is also used to treat stabbing or burning skin pain after an attack of shingles (a painful rash that occurs in people who have had chickenpox). It relieves pain by changing the way that the body senses pain.

An extended-release version of gabapentin is used to treat restless legs syndrome.

It is available by prescription only.

Gabapentin dosages
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Capsules, tablets, and oral solution

  • Capsules: 100 mg, 300 mg, and 400 mg
  • Tablets: 600 mg, and 800 mg
  • Oral Solution: 250 mg/5mL

Similar drugs to Gabapentin

  • Lyrica (pregabalin)

Side effects

Disclaimer

Medications may affect individuals differently. Usage of any medication may include side effects and other interactions. Here is a list of known common side effects and interactions. This list is not exhaustive -- there may be other side effects or interactions for this medication that are not listed here. In some cases, the likelihood of side effects or interactions may increase depending on dosage. It’s important to keep in mind that in extreme cases, other serious side effects, even death, may occur. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage is right for you.

Dizziness (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

28% of people experience dizziness

Sleepiness (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

21% of people experience sleepiness

Swelling (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

8% of people experience swelling

Weakness (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

6% of people experience weakness

Diarrhea (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

6% of people experience diarrhea

Dry mouth (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

5% of people experience dry mouth

Infection (taking for postherpetic neuralgia)

5% of people experience infection

Sleepiness (taking for seizures)

19% of people experience sleepiness

Dizziness (taking for seizures)

17% of people experience dizziness

Impaired coordination (taking for seizures)

13% of people experience impaired coordination

Fatigue (taking for seizures)

11% of people experience fatigue

Rapid involuntary eye movement (taking for seizures)

8% of people experience rapid involuntary eye movement

Tremor (taking for seizures)

7% of people experience tremor

Double vision (taking for seizures)

6% of people experience double vision

Full list of side effects

When taking gabapentin for postherpetic neuralgia:

Whole body

  • Weakness
  • Infection
  • Accidental injury

Digestive system

  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Metabolic and nutritional disorders

  • Peripheral edema
  • Weight gain
  • High blood sugar

Nervous system

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Abnormal thinking
  • Abnormal gait (walking pattern)
  • Lack of coordination

Respiratory system

  • Sore throat

Other senses

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye inflammation or infection
  • Double vision
  • Ear infection

When taking gabapentin for epilepsy:

Whole body

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Back pain
  • Peripheral edema (swelling, usually in the legs or feet)

Cardiovascular

  • Vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels, causes decreased blood pressure)

Digestive system

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Constipation
  • Dental abnormalities

Nervous system

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Ataxia (impaired coordination)
  • Nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movement)
  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Abnormal thinking
  • Abnormal coordination

Respiratory system

  • Sore throat
  • Coughing

Skin

  • Abrasion

Urinary system

  • Impotence

Other senses

  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision

Safety notes

  • If you are taking gabapentin for epilepsy, you may experience changes in your mental health, including the possibility of suicidal thoughts. Call your doctor right away if you experience suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, agitation, anxiety, depression, or other changes in mood or behavior.
  • In older patients, gabapentin should be started at a lower dose and monitored closely to avoid possible effects on the liver, kidneys, or heart that occur with higher doses.
  • Gabapentin is processed by the kidney, so patients with kidney disease should receive a lower dose.

What else you should know

  • If you are taking extended-release gabapentin, do not substitute it for another form of the drug. Make sure that you only take the form of gabapentin prescribed by your doctor.

Gabapentin interactions

Disclaimer

Medications may affect individuals differently. Usage of any medication may include side effects and other interactions. Here is a list of known common side effects and interactions. This list is not exhaustive -- there may be other side effects or interactions for this medication that are not listed here. In some cases, the likelihood of side effects or interactions may increase depending on dosage. It’s important to keep in mind that in extreme cases, other serious side effects, even death, may occur. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage is right for you.

Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medications or supplements

  • Taking gabapentin with hydrocodone decreases amounts of circulating hydrocodone.
  • Taking gabapentin with morphine can cause extra sleepiness, sedation, or respiratory depression.
  • Taking antacids with magnesium and aluminum hydroxides, like Maalox, reduces the amount of available gabapentin. Take gabapentin at least 2 hours after taking an antacid.

Tell your doctor if you have any of these pre-existing conditions

  • Lung disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

Gabapentin pricing

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