Pregabalin

  • You need to take pregabalin regularly.
  • It may cause you to feel drowsy or dizzy, especially when you first start taking it. Do not drive or use tools or machines if this happens.
  • Do not stop taking pregabalin without speaking to your doctor first. Stopping taking it suddenly can cause problems.
Type of medicine Anti-epileptic
Used for Treatment of epilepsy
Neuropathic pain
General anxiety disorder
Also called Lyrica®
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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

  • Keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

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.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Last Checked:
13/06/2012
Document ID:
3909 (v26)
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