Gabapentin (gab-a-PEN-tin) is an anticonvulsant medicine that is used to treat certain types of seizures. It is also sometimes prescribed for the treatment of other conditions such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is pain that lingers after shingles, and restless legs syndrome (RLS). Gabapentin is sold under a number of brand names, including Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant and Fanatrex.
Gabapentin helps control partial seizures in people who have epilepsy. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. It is not a cure for epilepsy but can help some people manage the condition. The medicine helps ease PHN by changing the way your body feels pain. It is not entirely clear how it works in the treatment of RLS.
Your doctor may advise that you take three doses of gabapentin tablets, capsules or oral solution per day. Doses should be at evenly placed intervals throughout the day, with no more than 12 hours lapsing between doses. Gabapentin is also available as a long-acting, extended-release tablet, which you take only once a day, usually with the evening meal. Never crush, chew or break extended-release tablets; this can cause them to release too much medicine at once, which can be dangerous. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions for taking gabapentin. And do not stop taking it without your doctor's guidance, even if you feel well. You may experience serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking gabapentin abruptly.
Before taking gabapentin, make sure you can do so safely. Talk with your doctor about your full health history, including any reactions you have had to any medications. Make sure he or she knows about any other drugs you may be taking, including over-the-counter remedies, vitamins and supplements. And tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Talk with your doctor about any new symptoms you experience while taking gabapentin, including ones that are related to your mental health and well-being. Some patients have reported increased thoughts of suicide while on the drug. It is crucial that you report such impulses to your doctor if this happens to you. Changes in behavior, temperament or mood (especially in children) can be red flags.
You should also report other serious symptoms such as itching, hives, trouble breathing or swallowing, or other signs of an allergic reaction. Also look out for blood in the urine, flulike symptoms, and any unusual bleeding, bruising or swelling.
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