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Gabapentin is a prescription medication that is used to treat several conditions, including seizures, nerve pain, restless leg syndrome, and fibromyalgia. It is also sometimes used to help people who are withdrawing from alcohol or other drugs. Gabapentin belongs to a class of medications called anticonvulsants. It works by reducing the number of seizure-causing chemicals in the brain and by affecting certain pain-transmitting nerve cells.
Gabapentin is generally safe and well-tolerated, but it can cause some side effects. The most common side effects are dizziness, drowsiness, and fatigue. Other side effects can include headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, trouble urinating, and weight gain. Some people may also experience dry mouth, thirst, or blurred vision. In rare cases, gabapentin can cause serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions, swollen ankles or feet, or chest pain. If you experience any of these side effects, you should call your doctor right away.
Gabapentin can be used to relieve pain caused by nerve damage, such as in the case of shingles or diabetes. In some cases, gabapentin may also be prescribed to help relieve hot flashes or restless leg syndrome.
The usual starting dose is 300 mg three times a day. The dose may be increased as needed to 1200 mg three times a day. The capsules should be taken with food and a full glass of water. If you are taking extended-release tablets, they should be taken with a meal or snack.
There are a few drugs that should not be taken with gabapentin. These are: other anticonvulsants, such as valproic acid, lamotrigine, or phenobarbital; the sedative midazolam; the diuretic furosemide; and cimetidine, an ulcer medication. In addition, gabapentin should not be taken with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. It is also important to let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications since some drugs can interact with gabapentin. For example, taking gabapentin with certain painkillers (such as opioids) can increase the risk of side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. Therefore, it is important to always check with a healthcare professional before taking any new medications.
The length of time that you will need to take gabapentin will depend on a number of factors, including the condition being treated, the severity of your symptoms, and how well you respond to the medication. In most cases, gabapentin is used on a short-term basis to manage acute episodes of pain or seizures. Once your symptoms have resolved, your doctor will gradually reduce your dose before stopping the medication altogether. If you are taking gabapentin for nerve pain, it may be necessary to continue treatment for several months or even years. However, the exact duration of therapy will vary from person to person. Ultimately, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions and take gabapentin for as long as prescribed. Stopping the medication suddenly can cause serious side effects.
More serious side effects are rare, but they can include changes in heart rate and rhythm. If you experience any of these side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately. Gabapentin can interact with other medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new medications.