Read the information leaflet from inside the pack.
Gabapentin can cause you to feel sleepy. Make sure your reactions are normal before you drive, or use tools or machines.
Do not take antacid preparations during the two hours before you are due to take gabapentin, or during the two hours after you have taken a dose.
Take gabapentin regularly every day. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
|Type of medicine||An anti-epileptic medicine|
|Used for||Epilepsy; neuropathic pain|
|Available as||Tablets, capsules and oral liquid medicine|
Gabapentin belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-epileptic medicines, although it is prescribed for the treatment of several different conditions. You may have been prescribed it for the treatment of partial seizures, which are 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 partial seizure, the burst of electrical activity stays in one part of the brain. Therefore, you tend to have localised or 'focal' symptoms. Gabapentin is used to control the symptoms of seizures and works by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Exactly how it does this is not fully understood.
Gabapentin is also prescribed 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 diseases. These include diabetes (where it is called diabetic neuropathy) and shingles (where it is called postherpetic neuralgia).
Although gabapentin is only licensed for use in epilepsy and neuropathic pain, it is also prescribed to help to prevent attacks of migraine. If you have been given it for this reason then you should speak with your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment.
Before taking gabapentin
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 gabapentin it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you have ever had a mental health problem known as psychosis.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take gabapentin
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about gabapentin and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take gabapentin exactly as your doctor tells you to. There are several different strengths of gabapentin tablets and capsules available, and you could be prescribed more than one strength.
- You will be advised to take a low dose when you first start taking gabapentin, and then to increase the dose over a few days. This is to allow your body to get used to it. Most people take three doses a day once they are on a regular maintenance dose. Your doctor will explain all this to you, and the dosing directions will be printed on the label of the pack. If you are still unsure about how to take your doses, ask your pharmacist to advise you.
- You can take gabapentin before or after food. Swallow the tablets/capsules with a drink of water. If you have been supplied with oral liquid medicine, see the instructions below for using the oral dosing syringe.
- Once you are taking a regular amount of gabapentin, try to take your doses at the same times each day. This will help you avoid missing doses.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember. Try to take the correct number of doses each day, but do not take two doses at the same time.
- If you need to take an antacid or indigestion remedy, do not take it during the two hours before or the two hours after you take gabapentin. This is because antacids reduce the amount of gabapentin that your body absorbs.
Instructions for using the dosing syringe with Gabapentin Rosemont Oral Solution
- Remove the bottle cap, and push the syringe adaptor into the top of the open bottle.
- Insert the syringe into the adapter.
- Turn the bottle (with the syringe connected to it) upside down.
- Gently pull out the plunger of the syringe so that the solution fills the syringe to the mark which corresponds to your dose.
- Turn the bottle the correct way up again, and remove the syringe from the bottle.
- Put the tip of the syringe into your mouth, and gently push the plunger so that the liquid is released into your mouth.
- Replace the bottle cap. Wash the syringe with water after each use.
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 are a woman and want to have a family, make sure that you discuss this with your doctor before you become pregnant. This is so that you can be given advice about your treatment from a specialist.
- People with epilepsy must stop driving. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to start driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
- A small number of people have developed mood changes or thoughts about suicide whilst being treated with anti-epileptics. If this happens to you, you must tell your doctor about it straightaway.
- If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
- You must take gabapentin regularly every day. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems. If it becomes necessary for the treatment to stop, your doctor will want you to reduce your dose over a few days.
Can gabapentin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with gabapentin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common gabapentin side-effects
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sleepy, tired, unsteady or dizzy; blurred vision and other eyesight problems||Do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling or being sick, indigestion, stomach ache||Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Infections, flu-like symptoms, increased appetite, flushing,
increased blood pressure, changes in weight, changes in emotions or mood, fits, movement difficulties, feeling shaky, difficulties sleeping, breathing difficulties, cough, gum changes, bruises, muscle or joint pains, impotence, and swollen feet or ankles
|If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
Important: gabapentin has been associated with a number of unwanted effects which affect the blood, pancreas and liver. Although these occur less commonly than the side-effects listed above, you must let your doctor know straightaway if you notice any of the following as they could be serious:
- Persistent stomach pain with sickness (these could be symptoms of an inflamed pancreas).
- A skin rash, or any swelling of your mouth or face (these could be symptoms of an allergic reaction).
- Any yellowing of your skin or of the whites of your eyes (these could be symptoms of jaundice).
- Any unusual bruising or bleeding (these could be symptoms of a blood disorder).
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store gabapentin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Once a bottle of Gabapentin Rosemont Oral Solution has been opened it will keep for one month. Do not use it after this time, and make sure you have a fresh supply.
Important information about all medicines
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty, so the doctor knows what has been taken.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not 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
- Manufacturer's PIL, Neurontin® Capsules and Tablets; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2013.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Gabapentin Rosemont 50 mg/ml Oral Solution; Rosemont Pharmaceuticals Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2014.
- British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
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.
Dr Helen Huins