What is gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral capsule, an immediate-release oral tablet, an extended-release oral tablet, and an oral solution.
Gabapentin oral capsule is available as the brand-name drug Neurontin. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, the brand-name drug and the generic version may be available in different forms and strengths.
Why it’s used
Gabapentin oral capsule is used to treat the following conditions:
- Seizures: Gabapentin is used to treat partial (focal) seizures. It’s taken together with other seizure medications in adults and in children 3 years of age and older who have epilepsy.
- Postherpetic neuralgia: This is pain from nerve damage caused by shingles, a painful rash that affects adults. Shingles appears after infection with the varicella zoster virus. This virus occurs in people who have had chicken pox.
Gabapentin may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other drugs.
How it works
Gabapentin belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
It’s not fully understood how gabapentin works. For postherpetic neuralgia, it seems to prevent the increase in sensitivity to pain that occurs. For seizures, it may alter the effect of calcium (low levels of calcium may cause seizures).
What are the Precautions when taking gabapentin (Neurontin®)?
Before taking gabapentin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to gabapentin enacarbil; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using Gabapentin (buy neurontin® online), tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney disease, mental/mood problems (such as depression, thoughts of suicide), use/abuse of drugs/alcohol.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially swelling of the hands/ankles/feet, dizziness, or loss of coordination. Dizziness and loss of coordination can increase the risk of falling.
Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially mental/mood/behavior changes (such as hostility, problems concentrating, restlessness).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Gabapentin passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Gabapentin oral capsule comes with several warnings. Call your doctor if you start having more seizures or a different kind of seizure while taking this drug.
Gabapentin can slow your thinking and motor skills and cause drowsiness and dizziness. It’s not known how long these effects last. You should not drive or use heavy machinery while taking this drug until you know how it affects you.
Using this drug increases your risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or notice any changes in your mood or behavior. Also talk to your doctor if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, including suicide.
Multiorgan hypersensitivity/DRESS warning
This medication can cause multiorgan hypersensitivity. This is also known as a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). This syndrome can be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as a rash, a fever, or swollen lymph nodes.
Gabapentin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- trouble breathing
- swelling of your throat or tongue
Don’t take this drug again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it before. Taking it a second time after any allergic reaction to it could be fatal (cause death).
Alcohol interaction warning
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin. Gabapentin can cause sleepiness, and drinking alcohol can make you even more sleepy. Alcohol can also make you more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble concentrating.
Warnings for people with certain health conditions
For people with epilepsy: Don’t stop taking gabapentin suddenly. Doing this can increase your risk of having a condition called status epilepticus. This is a medical emergency during which short or long seizures occur for 30 minutes or more.
Gabapentin can cause problems in children aged 3–12 years who have epilepsy. It raises their risk of thought problems as well as behavioral problems, such as being hyper and acting hostile or restless.
For people with kidney problems: Your body processes this drug more slowly than normal. This may cause the drug to increase to dangerous levels in your body. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.
Warnings for other groups
For pregnant women: The use of gabapentin has not been studied in humans during pregnancy. Research in animals has shown negative effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug. However, animal studies don’t always predict the way humans would respond.
Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this drug.
If your doctor prescribes gabapentin for you while you’re pregnant, ask about the NAAED Pregnancy Registry. This registry tracks the effects of anti-seizure drugs on pregnancy. Information can be found at aedpregnancyregistry.org.
For women who are breastfeeding: Gabapentin may pass into breast milk and cause serious side effects in a breastfeeding child. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should decide together if you should stop taking this drug or stop breastfeeding.
For seniors: Kidney function may decrease with age. You may process this drug more slowly than younger people. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be dangerous.
For children: Gabapentin has not been studied in children for the management of postherpetic neuralgia. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years. This drug should not be used to treat partial seizures in children younger than 3 years.
A lethal dose of gabapentin was not identified in mice and rats receiving single oral doses as high as 8000 mg/kg. Signs of acute toxicity in animals included ataxia, labored breathing, ptosis, sedation, hypoactivity, or excitation.
Acute oral overdoses of NEURONTIN up to 49 grams have been reported. In these cases, double vision, slurred speech, drowsiness, lethargy, and diarrhea were observed. All patients recovered with supportive care. Coma, resolving with dialysis, has been reported in patients with chronic renal failure who were treated with NEURONTIN.
Gabapentin can be removed by hemodialysis. Although hemodialysis has not been performed in the few overdose cases reported, it may be indicated by the patient’s clinical state or in patients with significant renal impairment.
If overexposure occurs, call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Gabapentin may interact with other medications
Gabapentin oral capsule can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects.
Below is a list of medications that can interact with gabapentin. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with gabapentin.
Before taking gabapentin, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.
If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
When used with gabapentin, certain pain drugs can increase its side effects, such as tiredness. Examples of these drugs include:
Stomach acid drugs
When used with gabapentin, certain drugs used to treat stomach acid problems can reduce the amount of gabapentin in your body. This can make it less effective. Taking gabapentin 2 hours after taking these drugs can help prevent this problem. Examples of these drugs include:
- aluminum hydroxide
- magnesium hydroxide
Important considerations for taking gabapentin
Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes gabapentin oral capsule for you.
Gabapentin oral capsules can be taken with or without food. Taking them with food can help to reduce upset stomach.
- Store gabapentin at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
- Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.
A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.
When traveling with your medication:
- Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
- Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
- You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Be sure to carry with you the prescription-labeled box that your medication came in.
- Do not put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.
The higher the dose an individual adjusts to, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be. Common gabapentin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Changes in appetite
- Crying spells
- Muscle pain or spasms
- Abdominal pain
- Suicidal ideation
Your doctor will monitor your kidney function.
Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for gabapentin. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.
Are there any alternatives?
There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.