What is Gabapentin used for?
Gabapentin is a medication primarily prescribed to treat nerve pain caused by shingles (herpes zoster) and to control seizures in epilepsy. It works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain and affecting the way nerves send messages to the brain. Gabapentin is also used off-label to manage certain types of chronic pain and anxiety disorders.
How does it work?
Gabapentin works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain and affecting the way nerves transmit messages to the brain. It does this by binding to specific protein channels in the central nervous system, inhibiting the abnormal firing of nerve signals that cause pain and seizures, thus providing relief to patients with neuropathic pain and epilepsy.
How to take it?
Gabapentin should be taken exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider. It is usually taken orally with or without food, typically three times a day. It is essential to follow the dosage instructions on the prescription label. Do not suddenly stop taking gabapentin without consulting a doctor, as it may cause withdrawal symptoms. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as remembered, unless it’s almost time for the next dose; in that case, the missed dose should be skipped. It’s crucial to avoid doubling the dose to make up for a missed one. If there are concerns or questions about how to take gabapentin, a healthcare professional should be consulted for guidance.
Gabapentin may cause common side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and coordination problems. Less common side effects include swelling in the hands or feet, blurred vision, weight gain, and tremors. Serious side effects requiring immediate medical attention can include severe dizziness, trouble breathing, and allergic reactions like rash or itching. Gabapentin may also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, depression, or mood changes, particularly in individuals with a history of mental health disorders. It’s crucial to report any unusual or severe symptoms to a healthcare provider promptly. This list is not exhaustive, and patients should consult their healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding of possible side effects.