What is gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral capsule, an immediate-release oral tablet, an extended-release oral tablet, and an oral solution. Gabapentin oral capsule is available as the brand-name drug Neurontin. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, the brand-name drug and the generic version may be available in different forms and strengths. There are several brands such as APO 113 a White & Yellow, Capsule-shaped containing Gabapentin 300 mg, the Elliptical / Oval SLV 600 containing 600 mg of gabapentin( Gralise), The capsule shaped R363 containing Gabapentin 600 mg and the Orange, Capsule-shaped IG323 supplied by InvaGen Pharmaceuticals, Inc which contains 400mg of Gabapentin.
Why it’s used
Gabapentin oral capsule is used to treat the following conditions:
Seizures: Gabapentin is used to treat partial (focal) seizures. It’s taken together with other seizure medications in adults and in children 3 years of age and older who have epilepsy.
Postherpetic neuralgia: This is pain from nerve damage caused by shingles, a painful rash that affects adults. Shingles appears after infection with the varicella zoster virus. This virus occurs in people who have had chicken pox.
Gabapentin may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other drugs.
How it works
Gabapentin belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
It’s not fully understood how gabapentin works. For postherpetic neuralgia, it seems to prevent the increase in sensitivity to pain that occurs. For seizures, it may alter the effect of calcium (low levels of calcium may cause seizures).
Gabapentin oral capsule causes dizziness and drowsiness. Avoid driving or using heavy machinery while taking this drug until you know how it affects you.
How long does it take for gabapentin to kick in?
Gabapentin is absorbed slowly after oral administration, with maximum plasma concentrations attained within 3-4 hours. When it comes to pain management, your pain starts to improve over one to two weeks after starting gabapentin, but it may take longer in some people. However, some feel benefits straight away. Your treatment will be reviewed when you next see the doctor or nurse.
How Long Does Gabapentin Remain in the Body?
Gabapentin is available in immediate-release and extended-release versions. It is most often taken as a pill. Information on the drug suggests that the half-life of gabapentin in most people will range from five to seven hours. The half-life of a drug refers to the time that it takes a person’s system to break the drug down to half of its original or beginning concentration in the bloodstream.
The liver is the organ that is responsible for breaking down (metabolizing) most of the substances in a person’s system. However, gabapentin is one of the few drugs that is not metabolized by the liver; instead, it is primarily metabolized by the kidneys. Because of this unique process, gabapentin does not remain in the body very long.
Gabapentin would be totally eliminated from the systems of most people after a span of five to eight half-lives has transpired. If we consider that the average half-life of gabapentin is around seven hours in most people, it would take about 48 hours for the drug to be totally eliminated from the system; however, there other factors that can affect this process. For instance, extended-release versions of gabapentin would continue to release the drug over time, and the detectability of the drug would be extended.
Drug screens typically do not test for the presence of gabapentin, but the substance can be detected if instructions are made to specifically look for the drug.
- The detectability of gabapentin will range from five to seven hours for most blood tests.
- It is undetectable in saliva swab tests.
- Hair tests might be able to specifically detect the presence of gabapentin for up to 90 days; however, it would be highly unusual for a hair test to be used to detect gabapentin.
- Urinalysis can detect the presence of gabapentin for up to three days in most individuals. The range of detection for urine tests would span from one to three days in most cases. Urinalysis would be the most common method to test for gabapentin.
Gabapentin side effects
Gabapentin oral capsule can cause mild or serious side effects. The following list contains some of the key side effects that may occur while taking gabapentin. This list does not include all possible side effects. For more information on the possible side effects of gabapentin, or tips on how to deal with a troubling side effect, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
More common side effects
Some of the more common side effects that can occur with use of gabapentin are listed below, along with their rates:
- viral infection
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble speaking
- jerky movements
The side effect rates are based on patients over 12 years old, as reported in clinical trials for the brand equivalent, Neurontin. Certain rates vary by age. For example, pediatric patients 3 to 12 years of age most commonly experienced viral infection (11%), fever (10%), nausea and/or vomiting (8), tiredness (8%), and hostility (8%). There were no clinically significant differences in rates between men and women.
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. SEE: Does Gabapentin Get you High?
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
Changes in mood or anxiety. Symptoms can include:
- thoughts of suicide or dying
- attempts to commit suicide
- anxiety that’s new or gets worse
- crankiness that’s new or gets worse
- panic attacks
- trouble sleeping
- aggressive or violent behavior
- extreme increase in activity and talking
- unusual changes in behavior or mood
Gabapentin may interact with other medications
Gabapentin oral capsule can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects. Below is a list of medications that can interact with gabapentin. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with gabapentin.
Before taking gabapentin, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.
If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
When used with gabapentin, certain pain drugs can increase its side effects, such as tiredness. Examples of these drugs include:
- Stomach acid drugs
When used with gabapentin, certain drugs used to treat stomach acid problems can reduce the amount of gabapentin in your body. This can make it less effective. Taking gabapentin 2 hours after taking these drugs can help prevent this problem. Examples of these drugs include:
- aluminum hydroxide
- magnesium hydroxide
Kidney problems: If you are older than 12 years and have kidney problems or are on hemodialysis, your dose of gabapentin will need to be changed. This will be based on how well your kidneys are working.
Gabapentin oral capsule comes with several warnings. Call your doctor if you start having more seizures or a different kind of seizure while taking this drug.
Gabapentin can slow your thinking and motor skills and cause drowsiness and dizziness. It’s not known how long these effects last. You should not drive or use heavy machinery while taking this drug until you know how it affects you.
Using this drug increases your risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or notice any changes in your mood or behavior. Also talk to your doctor if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, including suicide.
Multiorgan hypersensitivity/DRESS warning
This medication can cause multiorgan hypersensitivity. This is also known as a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). This syndrome can be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as a rash, a fever, or swollen lymph nodes.
Gabapentin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- trouble breathing
- swelling of your throat or tongue
Don’t take this drug again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it before. Taking it a second time after any allergic reaction to it could be fatal (cause death).
Alcohol interaction warning
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking gabapentin. Gabapentin can cause sleepiness, and drinking alcohol can make you even more sleepy. Alcohol can also make you more likely to feel dizzy and have trouble concentrating.
Warnings for people with certain health conditions
For people with epilepsy: Don’t stop taking gabapentin suddenly. Doing this can increase your risk of having a condition called status epilepticus. This is a medical emergency during which short or long seizures occur for 30 minutes or more.
Gabapentin can cause problems in children aged 3–12 years who have epilepsy. It raises their risk of thought problems as well as behavioral problems, such as being hyper and acting hostile or restless.
For people with kidney problems: Your body processes this drug more slowly than normal. This may cause the drug to increase to dangerous levels in your body. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.
Warnings for other groups
For pregnant women: The use of gabapentin has not been studied in humans during pregnancy. Research in animals has shown negative effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug. However, animal studies don’t always predict the way humans would respond.
Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this drug.
For women who are breastfeeding: Gabapentin may pass into breast milk and cause serious side effects in a breastfeeding child. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should decide together if you should stop taking this drug or stop breastfeeding.
For seniors: Kidney function may decrease with age. You may process this drug more slowly than younger people. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be dangerous.
For children: Gabapentin has not been studied in children for the management of postherpetic neuralgia. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years. This drug should not be used to treat partial seizures in children younger than 3 years. SEE: How Long Does It Take For Zoloft (Sertraline) To Work