Gabapentin

Pronounced (ga’ ba pen tin)
Brand Names:  Gralise®, Horizant®, Neurontin®

Why is Gabapentin Prescribed?

Gabapentin is used along with other medications to help control certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN; the burning, stabbing pain or aches that may last for months or years after an attack of shingles), and restless legs syndrome (RLS; a condition that causes discomfort in the legs and a strong urge to move the legs, especially at night and when sitting or lying down). Gabapentin is also sometimes used to relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy (numbness or tingling due to nerve damage in people who have diabetes), and to treat and prevent hot flashes (sudden strong feelings of heat and sweating) in women who are being treated for breast cancer or who have experienced menopause.

How Does Gabapentin Work?

Gabapentin is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. Gabapentin treats seizures by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. Gabapentin relieves the pain of PHN by changing the way the body senses pain. It is not known exactly how gabapentin works to treat restless legs syndrome.
Older man sitting in his bathroom while taking gabapentin

Common Side Effects of Gabapentin

Gabapentin may cause side effects. Tell your healthcare provider if any of these common side effects of gabapentin are severe or do not go away:
  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Unsteadiness
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Strange or unusual thoughts
  • Unwanted eye movements
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Back or joint pain
  • Fever
  • Runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms
  • Ear pain
  • Red, itchy eyes (sometimes with swelling or discharge)
Older couple sitting in the kitchen while reading through gabapentin side effects

Other Serious Symptoms of Gabapentin

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing; bluish-tinged skin, lips, or fingernails; confusion; or extreme sleepiness
Gabapentin may cause other side effects. Contact your provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

More About Gabapentin

When being prescribed any new medication, always inform your provider of all medications you are taking, including vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements, to avoid possible drug interactions.