Why Is Gabapentin Prescribed?
Gabapentin can be used to treat a number of conditions. Most commonly it is used for nerve pain (neuropathy). In conjunction with other drugs, gabapentin also can be used to help persons with epilepsy control some types of seizures. Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is another condition treated with gabapentin. Restless legs syndrome can be treated with gabapentin extended-release tablets (Horizant). Gabapentin belongs to the anticonvulsant class of drugs.
Gabapentin treats seizures by reducing irregular brain excitability. Gabapentin improves nerve pain and PHN discomfort by changing how the body perceives pain. The specific mechanism of action of gabapentin in the treatment of restless legs syndrome is unknown. Now that we know what is gabapentin used to treat, find out how gabapentin should be used.
How Is Gabapentin Used?
Gabapentin is available in the form of a capsule, a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) tablet, and an oral solution (liquid). Gabapentin pills, tablets, and oral solutions are commonly given three times a day, with or without meals, in a full glass of water. Your doctor may prescribe for you to slowly increase your dose of gabapentin. For example, you may start by just taking it at night and slowly increasing the dose up to three times daily. If you’re using gabapentin for PHN, let your doctor know if your symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks.
The extended-release pill (Horizant) is taken once a day with food. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and if there is anything you don’t understand, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain it to you. Take gabapentin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Gabapentin extended-release pills are not interchangeable with any other gabapentin product. If you have any queries concerning the gabapentin formulation you were given, ask your pharmacist. Do not cut, chew, or crush the extended-release pills; they must be swallowed whole.
If your doctor has prescribed half of a standard tablet as part of your treatment, carefully split the tablet along the score mark. Use the remaining half-tablet in your next dose. Dispose of any half-tablets you haven’t used within a few days of breaking them properly.
Gabapentin can help you manage your illness, but it won’t make it go away. Even if you feel okay, keep taking gabapentin. If you have side effects such as odd changes in behavior or mood, do not discontinue taking gabapentin without consulting your doctor. You may have withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty falling or staying asleep, nausea, discomfort, and sweating if you suddenly stop using gabapentin, so talk to your provider if you have any concerns about treatment. If you are taking gabapentin to treat seizures and stop taking it suddenly, you may experience additional seizures. Your doctor may gradually reduce your dose over the course of at least a week if it is necessary to discontinue gabapentin treatment.
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“Gabapentin (Oral Route)” Mayo Clinic, 2 August 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/gabapentin-oral-route/description/drg-20064011
“Gabapentin” University Of Michigan Health, 2 August 2021, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d03182a1
“Gabapentin (Oral Route)” Mayo Clinic, 2 August 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/gabapentin-oral-route/proper-use/drg-20064011