This drug is classified as an anticonvulsant, a class of drugs that is used to treat seizures from epilepsy. It is also commonly used to treat nerve pain from shingles as well as restless leg syndrome. Although it may work for some people in relieving their pain, about 60% of those taking the drug have experienced side effects or no relief at all.
Despite this rate, experts continue to describe the drug as safe and effective. With treatment closely monitored by one’s physician, side effects can be controlled and pain can be managed effectively. As soon as the patient finds the right dosage to achieve relief, it is important to never suddenly stop intake as the drug comes with withdrawal symptoms.
What Kinds Are Available?
This drug can be prescribed in two kinds. There is an immediate-release and an extended-release type. They may come in capsules, tablets, and oral solutions, which are more ideal for children. Neurontin is its most popular brand and this comes with a generic name that can be more affordable.
These drugs must be taken orally as prescribed and must never be crushed or chewed. It is also necessary for a person’s physician to be informed of all the existing medications and supplements taken by the patient so that the prescription can be adjusted in the most effective way possible.
Let us look closely at how these two kinds of medication work for their users:
The immediate-release drug can be capsules of 100, 300, and 400mg. There is also a tablet of 600 and 800mg respectively, and a liquid oral solution with 250mg per 5ml. These drugs can take effect in the body within 2 to 3 hours after being taken orally. This alleviates pain which helps improve sleep; however, it will take 2 weeks for the nerve pain itself to relieve.
When this prescription is aimed to treat seizures, the patient must track the number of seizures experienced before taking the drug so that it can be easily determined if the number of episodes is reduced. Usually, it takes a few weeks for an improvement to be felt. IR drugs are usually taken three times a day.
The extended-release drug is known for the brands Gralise and Horizant, which come with 300 and 600 mg each. These are usually prescribed once or twice per day because they are formulated in such a way that they are gradually released into the body. In other words, it takes time for them to enter the bloodstream; however, they are usually present in the body.
Unfortunately, these brands do not have any available generics yet, and there is not enough study that supports that they work well in treating seizures. Specifically, Gralise and Horizant are FDA-approved to treat nerve pain from shingles while Horizant can also be used for the treatment of restless leg syndrome.
How long will the treatment last
Length of treatment varies according to the illness involved as well as the age and the condition of the patient. As a non-opioid medication, this drug can be safely prescribed in conjunction with other substances to treat seizures. However, the side effects of drug interactions may occur especially in long-term treatment.
Epilepsy requires long-term treatment, and among adults and adolescents, a prescription may start with 300mg once a day. Depending on the patient’s response to the medication, prescription can reach up to a maximum of 3600mg/day which must be given in 3 doses each day. This maximum limit can be reached within at least three weeks.
Among children of at least 6 years old, treatment may begin at 10 to 15mg/kg each day and may increase within three days which could reach up to a maximum of 50mg/kg. This must be given in three doses with a 12-hour interval in a day. These doses are strictly monitored by the physician as they could shift depending on the patient’s response.
It is important to note that taking this drug is not only done when there is pain. A prescription must be strictly followed for a period to avoid complications. It is never advisable to take two doses in case one has been missed. If this happens, it is recommended to follow the regular prescription.
When it comes to treating pain from shingles and restless leg syndrome, the same dosage as that of epilepsy can be referred to. However, there is not enough study that supports its safety and ability to relieve pain once treatment reaches 5 months. Should this treatment be found necessary, the physician must fully assess the patient’s condition to ensure safety.
Among patients with a poor health condition, the prescription may vary considering that the usual dosage is likely to weaken renal function. For instance, elders from 65 years old and above are usually prescribed to take this drug for about 3 months after surgery. This may cause dizziness, drowsiness, and other more complications later on.
Overall, long-term treatment with this drug is quite crucial among the elders as well as those with poor general health. However, for those who have found relief under this medication, close supervision of a physician must still highly be observed, especially in tapering off the dosage until recovery is achieved.
Alarming Conditions with Gabapentin
It is always best to pay attention to how the body responds to this medication. It is likely for complications to happen even without being able to identify the cause. Severe cases may include allergies, trouble breathing, dizziness, anxiety, depression, and even increased suicidal thoughts. Some may also experience worse episodes of seizures.
If these conditions arise, seek medical help immediately. If you notice that for some time your symptoms have not improved, talk it out with your health provider right away. Always be mindful of your prescription and seek advice from your physician before changing anything from your routine.
For the safety and efficacy of this treatment, your active cooperation in medical care is the key. Don’t hesitate to seek professional medical attention today.