How long does it take for neurontin to work for nerve pain?

Contents

Gabapentin: What to know

People taking gabapentin should be aware of the following:

Risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Some people experience thoughts of suicide or exhibit suicidal behavior when taking gabapentin or other anticonvulsants.

If a person or their loved one notices changes in mood or behavior, they should contact a doctor immediately.

Interactions with other medications and substances

Gabapentin can interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Be sure to give the doctor a full list of current medications and supplements before taking gabapentin.

Results of a 2017 review suggest that the following are the main substances that interact with the drug:

  • caffeine, which is present in tea, coffee, and cola
  • ethacrynic acid, a diuretic
  • losartan, a medication for high blood pressure
  • magnesium oxide, a mineral supplement and antacid
  • mefloquine, an antimalarial drug
  • morphine, an opioid pain medication
  • phenytoin, an anti-seizure medication

If gabapentin causes sleepiness, speak to the doctor before taking other medications that can also cause drowsiness, including:

  • antianxiety medications
  • antidepressants
  • antihistamines
  • cold and flu medications
  • muscle relaxers
  • narcotics (pain medications)
  • sleeping pills

Presence of other health conditions

To ensure that gabapentin is safe to take, a person should tell their doctor if they currently have or have ever experienced:

  • breathing problems
  • depression or other mental health disorders
  • diabetes
  • dialysis treatment
  • drug and alcohol misuse issues
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • seizures (if taking gabapentin for conditions unrelated to seizures)

Risks during pregnancy and when breastfeeding

Share on PinterestPregnant women should only take gabapentin if it is unavoidable.

People who are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant, should tell their doctor before taking gabapentin.

Pregnant women should only take the drug if it is absolutely necessary. However, it is also essential to control seizures while pregnant.

Do not start or stop taking gabapentin for seizure control before talking to the doctor, who will assess the potential risks and benefits.

Gabapentin passes into breast milk, but its effects on babies are unknown. It is best to discuss this issue with a doctor before breastfeeding.

Potential for a drug allergy

Individuals with gabapentin allergies should not take the drug.

Also, the medication may contain other ingredients that can trigger allergy symptoms in some people. Discuss all drug and food allergies with a doctor before taking gabapentin.

Other safety considerations

Because gabapentin can cause drowsiness, anyone taking the drug should exercise caution while driving or using machinery.

Do not take antacids within 2 hours of taking gabapentin, as antacids reduce the body’s ability to absorb the drug.

People should also avoid alcohol or limit their intake while on gabapentin because there is a risk of adverse reactions.

Gabapentin

Generic Name: gabapentin (GA ba PEN tin)
Brand Names: Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin

Medically reviewed by Kaci Durbin, MD Last updated on Dec 21, 2018.

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Professional
  • Tips
  • Interactions
  • More

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic drug, also called an anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.

Gabapentin is used in adults to treat neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by herpes virus or shingles (herpes zoster).

The Gralise brand of gabapentin is indicated for the management of neuropathic pain only. It is not used for epilepsy.

The Horizant brand of gabapentin, in addition to treating neuropathic pain, is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).

The Neurontin brand of gabapentin is also used to treat seizures in adults and children who are at least 3 years old, in addition to neuropathic pain.

Use only the brand and form of gabapentin your doctor has prescribed. Check your medicine each time you get a refill to make sure you receive the correct form.

Important information

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Children taking gabapentin may have behavior changes. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

Do not stop using gabapentin suddenly, even if you feel fine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use gabapentin if you are allergic to it.

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);

  • diabetes;

  • depression, a mood disorder, or suicidal thoughts or actions;

  • a seizure (unless you take gabapentin to treat seizures);

  • liver disease;

  • heart disease; or

  • are taking an anti-depressant or sedating medication; or

  • (for patients with RLS) if you are a day sleeper or work a night shift.

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Seizure control is very important during pregnancy, and having a seizure could harm both mother and baby. Do not start or stop taking gabapentin for seizures without your doctor’s advice, and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

Gabapentin can pass into breast milk, but effects on the nursing baby are not known. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.

How should I take gabapentin?

Take gabapentin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Both Gralise and Horizant should be taken with food.

Neurontin can be taken with or without food, but should be taken with water.

If you break a Neurontin tablet and take only half of it, take the other half at your next dose. Any tablet that has been broken should be used as soon as possible or within a few days.

Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet. Swallow it whole.

Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

If your doctor changes your brand, strength, or type of gabapentin, your dosage needs may change. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about the new kind of gabapentin you receive at the pharmacy.

Do not stop using gabapentin suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping suddenly may cause increased seizures. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.

Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you have seizures. Any medical care provider who treats you should know that you take seizure medication.

This medicine can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine.

Store both tablets and capsules at room temperature away from light and moisture.

Store the liquid medicine in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Be sure to take the medicine with food. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking gabapentin?

This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Avoid taking an antacid within 2 hours before or after you take gabapentin. Antacids can make it harder for your body to absorb gabapentin.

Drinking alcohol with this medicine can cause side effects.

Gabapentin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to gabapentin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Seek medical treatment if you have a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body. Symptoms may include: skin rash, fever, swollen glands, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. This reaction may occur several weeks after you began using gabapentin.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • increased seizures;

  • fever, rash, and/or swollen lymph nodes;

  • severe weakness or tiredness;

  • problems with balance or muscle movement;

  • upper stomach pain;

  • chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing;

  • severe tingling or numbness;

  • rapid eye movement; or

  • kidney problems – little or no urination, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles.

Some side effects are more likely in children taking gabapentin. Contact your doctor if the child taking this medicine has any of the following side effects:

  • changes in behavior;

  • memory problems;

  • trouble concentrating; or

  • acting restless, hostile, or aggressive.

Common gabapentin side effects may include:

  • headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness;

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • problems with your eyes;

  • coordination problems; or

  • (in children) fever, nausea, vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect gabapentin?

Taking gabapentin with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic medication, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with gabapentin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use gabapentin only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2020 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 14.01.

Related questions

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Consumer resources

  • Gabapentin Tablets 600 mg and 800 mg
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  • Gabapentin Oral Solution
  • Gabapentin Tablets (PHN)
  • Gabapentin (Advanced Reading)

Other brands: Neurontin, Gralise, Gabarone

Professional resources

  • Gabapentin (AHFS Monograph)
  • … +5 more

Related treatment guides

  • Anxiety
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  • Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Benign Essential Tremor
  • … +32 more

Neurontin

Brand Names: Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin

Generic Name: gabapentin

  • What is gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What are the possible side effects of gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What is the most important information I should know about gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • How should I take gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What happens if I miss a dose (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What happens if I overdose (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What should I avoid while taking gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • What other drugs will affect gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?
  • Where can I get more information (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?

What is gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?

Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic drug, also called an anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.

Gabapentin is used in adults to treat nerve pain caused by herpes virus or shingles (herpes zoster).

The Horizant brand of gabapentin is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).

The Neurontin brand of gabapentin is also used to treat seizures in adults and children who are at least 3 years old.

Use only the brand and form of gabapentin your doctor has prescribed. Check your medicine each time you get a refill to make sure you receive the correct form.

Gabapentin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Seek medical treatment if you have a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body. Symptoms may include: skin rash, fever, swollen glands, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. This reaction may occur several weeks after you began using gabapentin.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • increased seizures;
  • severe weakness or tiredness;
  • problems with balance or muscle movement;
  • upper stomach pain;
  • chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing;
  • severe tingling or numbness;
  • rapid eye movement; or
  • kidney problems–little or no urination, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles.

Some side effects are more likely in children taking gabapentin. Contact your doctor if the child taking this medicine has any of the following side effects:

  • changes in behavior;
  • memory problems;
  • trouble concentrating; or
  • acting restless, hostile, or aggressive.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness;
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • problems with your eyes;
  • coordination problems; or
  • (in children) fever, nausea, vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)?

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking this medicine. Children taking gabapentin may have behavior changes. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

Do not stop using gabapentin suddenly, even if you feel fine.

Gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain in adults

Bottom line

There is moderate-quality evidence that oral gabapentin at doses of 1200 mg daily or more has an important effect on pain in some people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain after shingles or due to diabetes.

Background

Neuropathic pain comes from damaged nerves. It is different from pain messages that are carried along healthy nerves from damaged tissue (for example, from a fall or cut, or arthritic knee). Neuropathic pain is often treated by different medicines (drugs) to those used for pain from damaged tissue, which we often think of as painkillers. Medicines that are sometimes used to treat depression or epilepsy can be effective in some people with neuropathic pain. One of these is gabapentin. Our definition of a good result was someone with a high level of pain relief and able to keep taking the medicine without side effects making them stop.

Study characteristics

In January 2017 we searched for clinical trials in which gabapentin was used to treat neuropathic pain in adults. We found 37 studies that satisfied the inclusion criteria, randomising 5914 participants to treatment with gabapentin, placebo, or other drugs. Studies lasted 4 to 12 weeks. Most studies reported beneficial outcomes that people with neuropathic pain think are important. Results were mainly in pain after shingles and pain resulting from nerve damage in diabetes.

Key results

In pain after shingles, 3 in 10 people had pain reduced by half or more with gabapentin and 2 in 10 with placebo. Pain was reduced by a third or more for 5 in 10 with gabapentin and 3 in 10 with placebo. In pain caused by diabetes, 4 in 10 people had pain reduced by half or more with gabapentin and 2 in 10 with placebo. Pain was reduced by a third or more for 5 in 10 with gabapentin and 4 in 10 with placebo. There was no reliable evidence for any other type of neuropathic pain.

Side effects were more common with gabapentin (6 in 10) than with placebo (5 in 10). Dizziness, sleepiness, water retention, and problems with walking each occurred in about 1 in 10 people who took gabapentin. Serious side effects were uncommon, and not different between gabapentin and placebo. Slightly more people taking gabapentin stopped taking it because of side effects.

Gabapentin is helpful for some people with chronic neuropathic pain. It is not possible to know beforehand who will benefit and who will not. Current knowledge suggests that a short trial is the best way of telling.

Quality of the evidence

The evidence was mostly of moderate quality. This means that the research provides a good indication of the likely effect. The likelihood that the effect will be substantially different is moderate.

Arthritis Pain Answers

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Cleveland Clinic’s Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Center within the institute is a multidisciplinary clinic combining the expertise of nonoperative orthopaedists and rheumatologists in one location. Our evaluation and treatment center brings together experts so the cause of your joint pain can be quickly and appropriately diagnosed. Our team includes rheumatologists, nonoperative orthopaedic physicians, musculoskeletal radiologists, physical and occupational therapists, brace technicians and musculoskeletal patient educators.

Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Rheumatic & Immunological Diseases provides state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for adults and children for diseases ran including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis/tendonitis, osteoporosis, gout, pseudogout and multiple other forms of arthritis, systemic lupus, vasculitis, fibromyalgia and other diseases.

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Neurontin prescriptions surge amid opioid crisis

(Reuters Health) – – Prescriptions for nerve pain medicines like Neurontin and Lyrica have more than tripled in recent years, driven by increased use among chronically ill older adults and patients already taking opioids, a U.S. study suggests.

The proportion of U.S. adults prescribed Neurontin and other drugs in the same family of medicines climbed from 1.2 percent in 2002 to 3.9 percent by 2015, a period that also saw a surge in opioid overdoses and deaths. The family of medicines, known as gabapentinoids, includes gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant) and pregabalin.

“Nearly one in 25 adults takes a gabapentinoid during a year, which matters because we have little data to support much use of this drug class and minimal data to support the long-term safety of the medications,” said study author Dr. Michael Johansen of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University in Athens.

“My suspicion is that much of the use is driven by attempting to treat chronic pain with a non-opioid medication,” Johansen said by email.

U.S. deaths from opioids including heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Today, more than six in 10 drug overdose deaths involve opioids.

Amid this worsening opioid epidemic, the CDC has urged physicians to prescribe other drugs for pain including acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as gabapentinoids.

Gabapentin and pregabalin both have won U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treating partial seizures and a type of nerve pain caused by shingles. A version of gabapentin has also been approved for restless leg syndrome, and pregabalin has additional approvals for fibromyalgia and nerve pain related to diabetes and spinal cord injuries.

While the FDA doesn’t allow drug companies to promote these medicines for other conditions, doctors are free to prescribe the drugs for off-label, or unapproved, uses.

Off-label use of gabapentinoids has been controversial, however, because these drugs can be addictive, they haven’t been proven effective for many common unapproved uses and there’s limited long-term safety data, Johansen writes in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For his study, Johansen reviewed survey data from a nationally representative sample of 346,177 adults, including details on any medical conditions and prescriptions.

Overall, more than four out of five of prescriptions for gabapentinoids were for gabapentin, the analysis found.

Prescription growth was concentrated among older adults, diabetics, people with multiple chronic health problems and patients already taking opioids or benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax.

One limitation of the study is that it relied on participants to accurately report on any drug use, and it’s possible that some people did not disclose opioid use. The study didn’t include prescription records or information on drug costs.

“The use of gabapentinoids specifically seems to be outpacing any proven efficacy and the potential significant harms like addiction and overdose are only beginning to be investigated,” said Dr. Christopher Goodman, a researcher at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia who wasn’t involved in the study.

While some patients may benefit from these drugs, they should consider other approaches to pain management like exercise, physical therapy and yoga that may be safer and still provide some relief, Goodman said by email.

Side effects of gabapentinoids include sedation, dizziness and trouble thinking, Dr. Chad Brummett, an opioid researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. The risks are worse at higher doses.

Mixing these drugs with opioids and benzodiazapines may make them even more dangerous, said Marissa Seamans, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Gabapentinoids are increasingly prescribed to patients with opioids and benzodiazapines, which increases the risk of respiratory depression and death,” Seamans said by email. “Clinicians and patients need to carefully monitor the dosage of these medicines, their interactions, and potentially fatal side effects.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2Ar8g2m JAMA Internal Medicine, online January 2, 2018.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

If you’ve ever experienced nerve pain, you know that typical pain meds like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, frankly, don’t cut it.

That’s because nerve pain—often described as a burning, prickling, or tingling pain—is totally different from, say, menstrual pain, which is considered visceral pain (pain in the organs), or muscle pain, which is considered somatic pain (when pain receptors in tissues are activated).

That’s why many people who suffer from neuropathy, a.k.a. nerve pain, turn to gabapentin, also sold under the brand name Neurontin.

Related Story

“We use it a lot when there is any type of irritated nerve, most commonly lumbar radiculopathy—sciatica, in laymen’s terms. Or radiating neck pain that goes into the arms and hands,” says Kiran Patel, M.D., director of neurosurgical pain at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York.

It’s also prescribed to treat pain linked to nerve damage from diabetes and chemotherapy, she says. Unlike other pain meds like opiods, which work by blocking feelings of pain, gabapentin changes the way the body senses pain.

The drug is often prescribed off-label, too, says Patel. (That means doctors prescribe it to help treat conditions the FDA hasn’t approved it for.) Case in point: Non-pain related conditions like anxiety and alcohol withdrawal can benefit from gabapentin, says Andrew Saxon, M.D., chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry.

But, because gabapentin can work for multiple conditions, some doctors fear that it’s being over-prescribed. A 2017 report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests gabapentin is being increasingly prescribed for almost any type of pain.

In 2016, it was the 10th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States with a total of 64 million prescriptions dispensed that year, up from 39 million prescriptions in 2012, according to the report.

On top of that, recent news reports suggest the drug has the potential for abuse and misuse. Officials in Kentucky and Ohio are reporting it’s shown up in people who’ve overdosed on opioids.

Related Story

Though the drug isn’t believed to be the cause of the overdoses, which are linked to drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, it could be a contributing factor, says Patel explaining that it may be the result of “polypharmacy”—the use of multiple drugs at the same time to treat a condition. Gabapentin may also help enhance the euphoria caused by opioids.

According to Patel and Saxon, gabapentin is usually well-tolerated when taken as directed. Still, it’s important to be aware of these gabapentin side effects.

You always feel woozy and drowsy, even after a good night’s sleep.

The most common gabapentin side effect is drowsiness, says Saxon. That sleepy feeling may be more pronounced when you first start taking gabapentin and then slowly goes away as your body adjusts to the medication, according to the Mayo Clinic. Don’t get behind the wheel (golf carts and bikes included) if it makes you feel groggy. If the drowsiness doesn’t go away, check in with your doctor who can work with you on tweaking the dose, or may suggest weaning you off.

You’re having memory issues or trouble forming thoughts.

“I’ve seen some of my patients who don’t feel as sharp cognitively and have issues with memory,” says Patel. Talk with your doctor about this symptom before you stop taking the drug. Just don’t stop cold-turkey—you’ll likely have to taper off of the medicine, since suddenly stopping gabapentin can make you feel worse, says Patel.

You’re kind of wobbly too.

Balance problems may also be a side effect of taking gabapentin, along with uncoordinated movement, says Patel. Again, tell your doctor, who may want to adjust your dose or discuss other pain relief options.

You’re on other medications and start to feel worse after beginning a course of gabapentin.

Definitely do not mix gabapentin with opioids without consulting with your doctor first. Tell your doctor if you’re using herbal drugs, too, like ginkgo biloba, which can lessen then effects of gabapentin. Antacids can also reduce the effectiveness of the drug. But it’s okay to combine gabapentin with the (proper dosage) of over-the-counter pain relievers ibuprofen or acetaminphen, Patel says.

You’ve been feeling depressed lately.

Gabapentin side effects can also include an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors (the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about this possible in 2008). Talk to a doctor or a mental health expert right away if you’re experiencing these thoughts or feelings.

You’re having difficulty breathing.

“Gabapentin should not be taken with other medicines that can cause sedation, including Benadryl, sleep aids, muscle relaxants — and most definitely not with alcohol — because of the potential risk of respiratory depression. Even cough syrup,” says Patel.

It should also be noted, that you should talk to your doctor if you’re taking gabapentin and are pregnant or are considering pregnancy; gabapentin’s side effects in pregnancy have not been well-researched.

Does Gabapentin (Neurontin) Cause Weight Gain?

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Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a medication that was developed as a treatment for neuropathic pain and as an adjunct for seizures. It is also commonly prescribed off-label for conditions such as: restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, migraines, and even anxiety disorders. In fact, an estimated 9/10 prescriptions for the drug are for off-label conditions.

The drug is frequently used off-label due to the fact that it is considered to have a low potential for abuse and is regarded as non-addictive. Due to the fact that the drug elicits both analgesic and anticonvulsant effects, it is sometimes preferred by those undergoing various types of surgery. It reduces preoperative anxiety via its mechanism acting on GABAergic neurotransmission, and provides postoperative pain relief.

Although many people find that Gabapentin is an effective treatment for neuropathic pain, seizures, and various off-label conditions – many people experience unwanted side effects. One unwanted side effect that has been reported in a small percentage of users is weight gain. Those that gain significant weight on Gabapentin may be tempted to discontinue as a result of a compromised body-image.

Gabapentin is a drug that isn’t associated with clinically significant weight gain. It is estimated that approximately 3% of all users will experience some form of weight gain. Most people won’t notice any significant fluctuations in body weight throughout their treatment. For this reason, Gabapentin is often referred to as a “weight neutral” drug.

That said, there are some studies highlighting the fact that weight gain can occur on Gabapentin, especially when taken at high doses. In one study of 28 patients taking 3000 mg per day of Gabapentin, 10 patients gained approximately 10% of their bodyweight. Despite this finding, the majority of patients remained weight neutral, and some even lost weight (3 patients).

While more individuals are likely to gain weight as opposed to lose weight on Gabapentin, most individuals won’t notice any significant change in bodyweight. However, it is important to understand that many pharmaceutical companies underestimate the potential of their drug to cause weight gain in effort to increase sales. If you end up gaining weight, it may be difficult to distinguish whether it’s a result of the drug or blatantly poor health choices.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9263379

How Gabapentin Causes Weight Gain: List of Possibilities

Gabapentin has a poorly understood mechanism of action and weight gain is uncommon. Since there is some confusion regarding the precise neurophysiological effects of the drug, it is difficult to pinpoint the specific cause of weight gain. There are many theories in regards to why you may pack on some extra poundage while taking Gabapentin.

  • Appetite increase: Some people notice that Gabapentin significantly increases their appetite. If you’ve been taking Gabapentin and have been feeling hungrier than usual, it may be more than a coincidence. Certain individuals find that they consume more because the drug is increasing their appetite. An increased appetite can be difficult to control, and as a result, some people gain weight.
  • Arousal reduction: Gabapentin is known to act on the neurotransmission of GABA in the brain. GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and ultimately reduces arousal. Those feeling reductions in physiological arousal may have a difficult time summoning up the energy to start (or finish) a workout.
  • Drowsiness: The most common side effect of Gabapenin is drowsiness. If you feel drowsy each time you take Gabapentin, you probably won’t feel like moving, let alone working out. This drowsiness may lead to a significant decrease in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behavior. The lack of physical activity as a result of drowsiness can result in weight gain, especially if your dietary intake remains the same or increases.
  • Fatigue: Some people report that Gabapentin makes them feel exceptionally sluggish and fatigued. This feeling of fatigue may stem from the most common side effect associated with the drug – drowsiness. If you feel more fatigued than usual, this may trigger a cascade effect of metabolism slowing and physical inactivity.
  • Food cravings: Various anecdotal reports have claimed that Gabapentin increased their cravings for sugary foods and carbohydrates. If you are craving sugary foods and end up following through with consumption of those foods, weight gain is likely. Consuming excess sugary foods leads to blood sugar changes and metabolic fluctuations; all making weight gain likely.
  • Hormone levels: Any drug that alters brain chemicals and the nervous system has potential to alter hormone levels. While hormone alterations may not be significant or even common among everyone using Gabapentin, the possibility should not be ruled out. Hormonal alterations may be significant enough to cause weight gain.
  • Low energy: Those experiencing reductions in energy while taking Gabapentin are not alone. Energy reductions commonly occur when individuals take drugs that act on GABA; Gabapentin regulates two enzymes involved in GABA synthesis. The altered synthesis may result in drowsiness, fatigue, and ultimately low neurophysiological energy. This low energy may translate directly to packing on some unwanted baggage.
  • Reduced motivation: Staying motivated on Gabapentin may be difficult as a result of the drug’s effect on neurotransmission and physiology. Its effect upon the synthesis of GABA commonly results in drowsiness characterized by decreased cognitive and physiological arousal. Reductions in arousal commonly result in motivational deficits and/or amotivational behavior.
  • Slow metabolism: Taking any drug that acts on GABA will likely reduce physiological arousal. The reduction in arousal can actually slow your metabolism, leading you to gain weight even without changing your dietary intake or exercise regimen. In other words, your diet and exercise routine may be the exact same pre-drug as during treatment, but you may still gain weight – this is thanks to the slowing of your metabolism.
  • Social eating: Many untreated medical conditions can result in social isolation, which means you probably aren’t going out to eat with friends as much. Let’s say you start taking Gabapentin for anxiety or neuropathic pain, and are now able to function better in social situations. As a result, you may start to go out with friends more frequently, eating bigger portions and making unhealthy choices.
  • Taste improvement: It is possible for some people to subjectively notice a change in taste sensation when taking Gabapentin. While extremely unlikely, it is yet another possible explanation for weight gain. If food all of a sudden tastes significantly better than it did prior to taking the drug, you’re probably going to eat more.
  • Water retention: Some believe that the drug may increase water retention, thus contributing to a weight increase as a result of retained water. This may result in feeling bloated and to some people, the extra weight via water retention may be blatantly obvious. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to mitigate this side effect.

Note: It is important to note that weight gain on Gabapentin is largely subject to individual variation. Certain individuals may experience weight gain as a result of a single factor (e.g. food cravings), while others may gain weight as a result of multiple factors (e.g. slow metabolism, fatigue, and appetite increase).

Factors responsible for weight gain on Gabapentin (Neurontin)

There are many factors that may influence weight gain (or change) on Gabapentin. The most influential factors include: time span (how long you’ve been taking the drug), the dosage, other medications (drugs often interact), your lifestyle, and genetics.

1. Time Span

For some people, the duration over which they’ve been taking Gabapentin will influence their weight gain. Some people may notice no weight gain when they first start taking the drug, but may start to pack on some extra baggage after a year. One study suggests that weight gain most commonly occurs between months 2 and 3 of treatment and stabilizes after 6 to 9 months.

  • Short-term: Those that have been taking Gabapentin over a short-term may notice some temporary fluctuations in body weight as their physiology acclimates to the drug. These short-term changes tend to occur during the first few weeks of treatment. While weight gain may be alarming over the short-term, it’s not necessarily what will occur over the long-term.
  • Long-term: It is common for people to report that they gain weight over the course of long-term treatment with Gabapentin. Long-term treatment with any drug will alter physiological processes and the body becomes more prone to side effects – including weight gain. Some people take the drug for years without any weight gain, while others notice incremental increases with each successive year of treatment.

2. Dosage

Some literature indicates that there is no established relationship between dosage and weight gain. Stating that there is no established relationship between dosage and weight gain does not mean that this applies to everyone. Some people may notice that they’re significantly more prone to weight gain at higher doses.

Those that gain weight on lower doses may experience an amplified effect of weight increases at higher doses. Therefore it may be a good idea to take the minimal effective dose to minimize potential weight fluctuations.

3. Other Medications

If you are taking any other medications, it’s important to consider the fact that they may be contributing to the weight gain. Unless you have been on another drug for a long-term and haven’t noted any weight changes, it’s difficult to conclude that Gabapentin is the culprit for your weight gain. Even if you don’t think another medication is contributing to your weight gain, it is important to consider the potential of an interaction.

Certain mechanisms of action associated with your other medication(s) may interact with the Gabapentin to promote weight gain. If you started taking another drug simultaneously with Gabapentin and are gaining weight, consider that it may be caused by the other drug. You may also want to consider other non-pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol as potential culprits.

4. Lifestyle

It is important to consider the influence of your lifestyle on your bodyweight. Everyone wants to use the latest drug that they’re taking as a scapegoat excuse for their weight gain. If you are sedentary for most of the day, don’t make any effort to get physical activity, eat unhealthy foods high in carbohydrates and sugars – you shouldn’t be surprised if you gain weight.

While diet and exercise are important elements to consider as causes of weight gain, you may also want to consider sleeping habits and stress level. Someone getting a poor night’s sleep consistently and/or an individual with high stress is much more likely to gain weight. Consider lifestyle influences before assuming that Gabapentin is the problem.

5. Genetics

Much of weight gain on medications is subject to genetics. Take two people with identically healthy lifestyles and put them on the same dosage of Gabapentin for the same duration. One of those individuals may end up gaining 10 lbs., while the other may lose 5 lbs. What would explain the difference between these two individuals? Genetics as well as epigenetics or gene expression in response to the environment.

Fortunately new technology is available like GeneSight to help predict genetic responses to various medications. Genetics influence our physiological reactions to Gabapentin, thus dictating side effects – including whether we gain weight, remain weight neutral, or even lose weight.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24308788
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23865122

How much weight will you gain on Gabapentin?

Based on the fact that few studies exist analyzing Gabapentin’s effect on bodyweight, it is difficult to predict how much weight you’ll gain while taking the drug. One study suggested that those who gain weight will gain between 5% and 10% of their baseline body weight. In other words, if you weighed 200 lbs. prior to taking Gabapentin and gained weight – you’d probably gain between 10 lbs. and 20 lbs.

In another study published in 2013, the gastroretentive format of Gabapentin was analyzed over the course of 24 weeks. Patients did report weight gain, but the average weight gain was approximately 1.6 lbs. This suggests that over the course of 2 years treatment with Gabapentin, weight gain is likely to be minimal among those who do gain weight.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9263379
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23370075

Does everyone gain weight from Gabapentin?

Certainly not everyone gains weight while taking Gabapentin. It is estimated that over 90% of individuals taking the drug will experience no significant weight change. Of the remaining individuals, some will actually experience weight loss. Clinical trials suggest that less than 3% of all Gabapentin users will gain weight – this means that only a small number of people 3/100 will gain weight.

Some speculate that more people gain weight than what is reported by the drug company and/or clinical documentation. This drug is considered a predecessor to Lyrica (Pregabalin), which is associated with weight gain. There is evidence linking Lyrica and weight gain, suggesting that 10% to 20% of users will gain weight.

Since a greater percentage of Lyrica users gain weight, and Gabapentin is similar – some believe that the reports of weight gain on Gabapentin are low-ball estimates. Despite these theories, the bulk of scientific evidence suggests that most people will not gain significant weight while taking Gabapentin. In addition, a very small percentage of individuals will actually lose a bit of weight.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16397976

Comparing the therapeutic effect vs. weight gain

Among those who gain weight on Gabapentin, it is important to consider the therapeutic effect of the drug. Always conduct a cost-benefit analysis and determine the severity of the weight gain compared to the benefit derived from Gabapentin treatment. If you’re getting significant relief from your neuropathic pain and only gained a few pounds over the course of several months, you probably shouldn’t care too much about the weight gain.

However, if you managed to balloon in weight, gaining a significant amount – you may want to talk to your doctor. At a certain point, weight gain from any medication may get excessive and should be considered unacceptable. Gaining a significant amount of weight can put you at risk for other health conditions and may be detrimental to your self-esteem – leading to depression.

If you gained a fair amount of weight, but the drug is very therapeutic for a certain condition – you may feel as if you’re in a difficult situation. Always talk to a medical professional to assess your options that may include: Gabapentin withdrawal and/or switching to another medication. Certain people may be able to find a different medication that better suits their physiology.

Did you gain weight taking Gabapentin?

If you ended up gaining weight while taking Gabapentin, be sure to share a comment below with some details. Discuss how long you took Gabapentin, the dosage, as well as any other medications you were taking simultaneously that may have caused you to gain weight. Share why you believe the drug caused you to gain weight (e.g. drowsiness, food cravings, etc.).

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Every medicine is used to treat a particular condition and has different effects on each patient. Human anatomy is a very complex subject; you can never be sure of the same effects on every patient being treated under same circumstances. The effect of every medicine varies from one patient to another depending upon how the anatomy of a patient reacts to the chemical composition of that particular medicine.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) along with other medicines is used to treat epilepsy problems, partial seizures, neuropathic pain, hot flashes, and restless legs syndrome. Ingested orally, it is a first line treatment for all the given diseases and has shown proven results and improvement in countless patients.

Every medicine is formulated and designed to work on particular health issue, but when not prescribed properly or excess dosage is taken then the same medicine can cause difficulties. Just like any other medicine, Gabapentin has a number of side effects, which vary from one patient to another. In this article, we will discuss the possible side effects of Gabapentin with special reference to its impact on the patient’s weight.

Impacts of Gabapentin on Weight

As discussed above, Gabapentin is often given to patients with diseases that need longer and extensive treatments. Eventually, it is prescribed for a certain period of time. When you have to take a medicine for an extended duration, you are not only worried about how soon it will start producing results and improve your ailment; you are also worried about its side effects. One of the major thoughts on the consequences of any medicine is its impact on your weight.

After consulting a lot of health practitioners and going through health journals, we have found out that Gabapentin is not directly associated with weight gain in majority of the patients. Only 13% of patients who are prescribed this medicine witness an increase in their weight directly due to the intake. However, Gabapentin has a number of side effects that can cause weight gain in the patients. A list of all these side effects that may occur in your body is given below:

  • Drowsiness – The most common side effect to be reported by the patients is drowsiness after the use of Gabapentin. Drowsiness eliminates the desire to perform any physical activity, let alone a workout or going for a run. When the patient lies down on the bed for the entire time, following a regular diet, the chances of gaining weight increase. Drowsiness is also directly related with fatigues in the body.
  • Harmonic Imbalance – Medications associated with brain and nervous system can also impact the hormonal levels of the body as majority of the hormones are controlled by the human brain. Gabapentin can cause a disturbance in the hormone levels leading to changes in your weight.
  • Decreased Rate of Metabolism – Gabapentin or commonly known s Neurontin can also reduce the rate of metabolism in your body. When your metabolism rate slows down, the capacity of your body to work on extra fats slows down, eventually leading to weight gain.
  • Higher Levels of Water in Body – Research has shown that Gabapentin can cause your body to retain a higher level of water in your body, thus reducing the volume of urine your body excretes. Higher water content in your body increases the weight and makes you obese.
  • More Food Intake – It has been observed in many patients that taking Gabapentin increases their food intake. This happens due to a number of factors. First of all, Gabapentin likely increases your hunger, an increased hunger causes you to eat more resulting in an increased weight. Secondly, there is a great chance that while taking Gabapentin, your demand for foods rich in sugar content increases.
  • Low Energy and Lack of Motivation – Many patients have reported a reduced level of energy and lack of motivation for doing anything. This results in giving up your daily routine and sticking to the beds or confined spaces. The absence of willpower and motivation impacts the patient’s psychology directly and they give up all kinds of healthy activities. Lethargic behavior also leads to gaining excess weight and not being able to worry about it.

Other Side Effects of Gabapentin

The above mentioned side effects are directly or indirectly related to weight gain in the patients taking Gabapentin. Other than these, following reactions are also possible:

  • Visual disorders
  • A runny Nose
  • Constipation
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • A sore throat
  • Redness in eyes

Other than the above list, if you are taking Gabapentin and notice the following side effects, you need to see your doctor straightaway

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • An inclination to hurt yourself
  • Sever rashes
  • Continuous high fever
  • Palpitations

Most of the side effects mentioned can be treated by managing the dosage, but there are reactions that need immediate attention. You need to keep a continuous follow up with your health practitioner to keep a close eye on how your body is responding to the medication.

Some Other Variables

Apart from the side effects contributing towards weight gain, the following are some other factors that may also impact your weight count while you are using Gabapentin

  • Duration of Intake – The duration of intake is directly responsible for the amount of weight you may gain. If you are being prescribed Gabapentin for a short period of time, you will notice temporary differences in your body. It is possible that you might get a little overweight depending upon your daily routine. However, if you are taking Gabapentin for a longer period of time and you give up exercise stop following your daily routine, you are likely to get overweight during the period and the repercussions may continue for a longer time even after you have stopped taking Gabapentin.
  • Daily Routine – Your daily routine is the most important factor that contributes to excessive weight gain while you are taking Gabapentin. Make sure that you maintain a healthy physical activity so your body stays in shape. It is pertinent to highlight here that friends and family of the patient need to play an important role in this regard. They need to keep the patient motivated and on track for continuing a healthy daily routine.
  • Genetics – Genetics play an important part in how your body reacts to certain medications. Researches on this topic have shown that people having the same routine, age, physical outlook react differently to Gabapentin and the reason behind this is having different genetic make-up. Genes specifically control how a patient reacts psychologically to a certain medication. Since the majority of the factors that lead to weight gain as a consequence of taking Gabapentin are rooted in the psychology of the patient, it is safe to say that genes significantly control the weight changes in this scenario.
  • Dosage and Accompanying Medicines – The dosage of Gabapentin does not necessarily impact the weight gain in your body. However, every patient reacts differently to every medicine, there might be a possibility that with higher dose, the chances of growing your weight are higher. Medicines that you take along with Gabapentin as a combination also impact the changes in weight. For example, if you are taking a medicine along with gabapentin that contributes to weight gain, then you cannot say that Gabapentin is the only reason you are gaining weight.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone who is prescribed Gabapentin undergoes weight increase, it is estimated that only 10-15% of people using this medicine show an increase in their weight. There may not be drastic changes, but some changes you might observe while standing on a weighing scale. It is important to highlight that weight gain is not something irreversible; you can follow up a healthy diet plan and regular physical workouts to come back to your desired shape.

10 Medications That May Cause Weight Gain

These days, there’s a pill for everything. Some of the most popular are pills to lose weight — although you’ll want to be careful. A good number of them amount to snake oil. But some are actually effective when used correctly. Unfortunately, there are also popular medications that can cause you to gain weight. Unintentionally, that is.

Here are 10 popular medications and drugs, both prescription and over the counter, that are associated with weight gain.

1. Prozac

Prozac can affect your waistline. | Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

One of the most well-known drugs tied to weight gain is Prozac. Prozac is a commonly used and prescribed antidepressant. It’s not the only antidepressant that’s been associated with weight gain (as you’ll see), but on a brand-name level, it may be the most popular. According to WebMD, approximately 25% of antidepressant users will gain weight — often up to 10 pounds or more.

2. Allegra

Allegra can affect your weight. | iStock.com/ANDROMACHI

Millions of people suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies. One of the more popular and common treatments is a drug called Allegra, which is available pretty much anywhere. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, Allegra can also cause you to gain weight. One study showed that people who take antihistamines regularly weigh between 4.4 and 9.5 pounds more than those who don’t.

3. Zyrtec

Zyrtec may also cause issues. | iStock.com/Thanmano

Along with Allegra, Zyrtec is another antihistamine that is associated with weight gain. There are other side-effects that antihistamines like Zyrtec will cause as well, but gaining weight is typically one people don’t expect. The easiest explanation as to why, is that these types of drugs target certain receptors that not only deal with histamine, but are also hardwired into the workings of our appetites.

4. Paxil

Expect to gain weight on Paxil. | iStock.com/loooby

Away from antihistamines and back to antidepressants. Paxil, an SSRI antidepressant similar to Prozac, can also cause some users to pack on the pounds. Some people who have used Paxil regularly have reported very serious and significant weight gain. It’s not all directly caused by the drug, but these types of medications can be an underlying factor.

5. Birth control

Birth control is well-known for this side effect. | iStock.com

A staple for millions, birth control is often blamed for weight gain. There’s good news, though. While birth control can cause you to pack on a few pounds in some cases, it’s usually a passing phase. The extra pounds can often be traced to extra fluid retention. It’s water weight, WebMD says — and with time, it will go away.

6. Neurontin

Neurontin can cause weight gain. | iStock.com/theevening

You may have never heard of Neurontin, which is also known as Gabapentin. It’s a drug used to treat pain and seizures and is also a cause of significant weight gain for many users. Studies have found that some users gained as much as 10% of their body weight with a 3,000-milligram daily dose.

7. Lithobid

Lithobid can change your metabolism. | iStock.com/BCFC

Lithobid is pretty much what it sounds like — Lithium. It’s used to treat depression and bipolar disorder symptoms, but one common side-effect is change to a person’s metabolism and appetite. As a result, many users gain weight while taking it. That’s only one of a host of reported side effects, however, some of which are far more serious than others.

8. Deltasone

Deltasone can expand your waistline. | iStock.com/agencyby

Deltasone is a medication commonly used to treat issues related to inflammation. This includes arthritis, skin diseases, blood disorders, and even respiratory issues. One of its major side effects is the possibility of weight gain, as with every other item on this list.

9. Zoloft

Zoloft also comes with this side effect. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Circling back to antidepressants, another popular drug that causes people to put on weight is Zoloft. This particular medication is lumped in the same group of SSRIs as Prozac and Paxil and shares many of the same side effects. One of them, naturally, being weight gain.

10. Insulin

Insulin can cause weight gain, too. | iStock.com

Insulin is a hormone used by your body to regulate blood sugar levels. Weight gain and diabetes are closely related, and people who have diabetes take insulin to help manage the disease. Weight gain is a common side effect of taking insulin, as your cells can absorb more sugar (glucose) than needed. That is then stored as fat, causing people to gain weight.

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