|Type of medicine||Anti-epileptic|
|Used for||Treatment of epilepsy
General anxiety disorder
|Available as||Capsules and oral liquid|
Pregabalin is used alongside other medicines in the treatment of focal seizures, which is a type of epilepsy. A seizure is a short episode of symptoms which is caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. With a focal (sometimes called 'partial') seizure, the burst of electrical activity stays in one part of the brain. Therefore, you tend to have localised or 'focal' symptoms. Pregabalin is used to control the symptoms of seizures.
Pregabalin is also used either alone or alongside other medicines to treat certain types of long-lasting pain caused by damage to nerves. This type of pain, called neuropathic pain, can be caused by a number of different conditions including diabetes and shingles.
Pregabalin may also be helpful in treating the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder where other medicines are not suitable.
Before taking pregabalin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking pregabalin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are under 18 years of age.
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have kidney or heart problems.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you have ever had drug or alcohol dependence problems.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take pregabalin
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of pregabalin you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take pregabalin exactly as your doctor has told you. The dose of pregabalin varies from one person to another so follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack. You need to take pregabalin regularly every day.
- If you are taking pregabalin for epilepsy, when you first start this treatment your doctor will give you a small dose and then gradually increase your dose. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms.
- You can take pregabalin before or after meals.
- Try to take your doses of pregabalin at the same times each day. This will help you to avoid missing any of your doses.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- When you first start a new treatment for epilepsy there may be a change in the number or type of seizures you experience. Your doctor will advise you about this.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking pregabalin and alcohol. Pregabalin will increase the side-effects of alcohol (especially drowsiness) and may not be recommended for you.
- People with epilepsy must stop driving at first. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to resume driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
- While you are taking pregabalin, there is a small risk that you may develop mood changes or distressing feelings, and thoughts about suicide. If this happens, you must tell your doctor straightaway.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking pregabalin.
- Do not stop taking this medicine unless your doctor tells you to do so. Stopping pregabalin suddenly can cause problems and your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take.
- If you are a woman and you want to have a family, make sure you discuss this with your doctor well in advance of becoming pregnant. This is so that you can be given advice from a specialist before you become pregnant. If you become pregnant while you are taking pregabalin, you must tell your doctor straightaway.
Can pregabalin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common pregabalin side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or sleepy
Blurred or double vision
|If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Feeling or being sick, wind||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy food|
|Constipation||Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water. If this continues, speak with your doctor for advice|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Increased appetite, mood changes, feeling confused or irritable, difficulties sleeping, reduced sexual desire, feeling unsteady or shaky, loss of concentration, vertigo (a spinning sensation), swollen feet or ankles||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
Important: if you experience any difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face, mouth, tongue or throat, then contact your doctor for advice straightaway. These are signs of an allergic reaction.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store pregabalin
- Keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Lyrica®; Patient Information Leaflet, Lyrica® Capsules, Pfizer Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson