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Gabapentin: uses, precautions and side effects

Gabapentin: uses, precautions and side effects

May 26, 2024

There are a large number of medications created for a specific purpose and that have subsequently been highly effective for another completely different. This is the case of gabapentin .

This antiepileptic drug has been found to be very helpful in people with neuropathic pain due to its anagnesic effects. Below we describe its properties, precautions and side effects.

  • Related article: "Psychotropic drugs: drugs that act on the brain"

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a drug that was initially created to intervene in the treatment of epilepsy . However, over time it was discovered that it was also effective as a treatment for pain, especially for that pain with a neuropathic cause.

Its main advantage over benzodiazepines used to treat epilepsy is that, unlike these, gabapentin has the property of improving sleep considerably and without the risk of addiction that benzodiazepines have. In addition, it is a drug very well tolerated by practically all patients.

What is it for?

The main applications of gabapentin, in any of its formats, have to do with the control of certain types of seizures suffered by people with epilepsy . Specifically, seizures decrease by reducing or controlling the abnormal excitation of the brain

Also, both capsules, tablets or oral solution are very effective in the treatment of pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia , since gabapentin alters the way in which the body experiences such pain.

Another of its formats, which is presented in prolonged-release tablets, is used in the treatment of restless legs syndrome, which generates in the person a deep affliction in the legs that is accompanied by an urgent need to move them continuously,

As for the less common uses, the effectiveness of gabapentin in the prevention of frequent migraines has been confirmed, and for the treatment of nystagmus , which causes involuntary and uncontrollable movements of the eyes. However, these uses have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Finally, despite having generated some controversy, it has been tried to use gabapentin as a treatment for bipolar disorder, since some studies claim that it generates fewer adverse effects than other medications, such as lithium, for this disorder. However, most research claims that this medication is not much more effective than the placebo used in them.

How is this medication given?

As mentioned above there are several formats in which gabapentin is presented. These are: pills, capsules, long-acting capsules and oral solution .

It is always advisable that the administration of this medication is carried out always following the recommendations of the physician who prescribes them; avoiding increasing or decreasing doses independently , just as it should not be taken more often than indicated,

Although gabapentin is extremely effective at controlling the symptoms of certain disorders or conditions, it is does not have the ability to cure it . Therefore, it is of vital importance that the patient does not stop taking the medication even if he feels that he feels better or that his symptoms have subsided, if the doctor has not indicated it to him thus.

If the patient decides on his own to stop taking this medication, he may end up suffering from a series of symptoms related to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, nausea or excessive sweating.


There are a number of situations or people in which the use of gabapentin is not recommended, starting with those patients who have manifested some type of hypersensitivity to this medicine or any of its active ingredients.

Although there are only animal studies on the effects of gabapentin during pregnancy, it is not recommended during pregnancy, with the sole exception that the benefit to the pregnant woman is greater than the possible risks to the fetus.

Also, due to the sedative effects of gabapentin, this may cause drowsiness, dizziness or lack of coordination , problems that tend to worsen with alcohol consumption. So it is necessary to avoid driving any type of vehicle or machinery, at least until the patient is sure of what are the effects that this drug has on your body.

Regarding its effect in children, gabapentin can alter the behavior and capabilities of these during the period in which it is administered.It is necessary to take into account that minors can experience changes in mood, irritation, hyperactivity or concentration problems. Therefore the supervision of an adult is necessary in any activity that the child carries out.

Although only the most important are listed here, there are many precautions to take into account before taking gabapentin. Therefore, the patient must inform the medical specialist of any allergy, consumption of other medications or diseases or organic conditions that he / she suffers.

Side effects of gabapentin

Between the most common side effects after gabapentin administration there is dizziness, drowsiness or peripheral edema, which refers to the inflammation of the extremities.

Other common side effects are:

  • Muscular weakness .
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety.
  • Memory problems .
  • Acidity.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever .
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Itchy eyes

A strange but rather striking side effect of gabapentin is the genesis and development of suicidal ideations in patients suffering from epilepsy or some other type of mental illness or disorder. This trend occurs in approximately 1 in 500 people and has to appear just one week after starting treatment.

If the patient has any doubt or concern about the side effects of this drug, it is recommended that you go to the doctor who was prescribed or to your trusted pharmacist to solve all kinds of questions.

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