1. About gabapentin
Gabapentin is used to treat epilepsie. It’s also taken for nerve pain. Nerve pain can be caused by different illnesses, including suikerziekte and shingles, or it can happen after an injury.
Occasionally, gabapentin is used to treat migraine headaches. Gabapentin is available on prescription. It comes as capsules, tablets, and a liquid that you drink.
2. Belangrijkste feiten
- It’s usual to take gabapentin 3 times a day. You can take it with or without food.
- Most people who take gabapentin don’t get any side effects. The most common ones are feeling sleepy, tired and dizzy. Side effects are usually mild and go away by themselves.
- It takes at least a few weeks for gabapentin to work.
- You don’t need to have epilepsy for gabapentin to help with pain or migraine.
- The most common brand name is Neurontin.
3. Who can and cannot take gabapentin
Gabapentin can be taken by adults and children aged 6 years and over. Gabapentin is not suitable for some people. To make sure gabapentin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to gabapentin or other medicines in the past
- have ever misused or been addicted to a medicine
- are trying to get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding
- are on a controlled sodium or potassium diet, or your kidneys don’t work well (gabapentin liquid contains sodium and potassium, so speak to your doctor before taking it)
4. Hoe en wanneer in te nemen?
Gabapentin is a prescription medicine. It’s important to take it as advised by your doctor.
The usual dose of gabapentin to:
- treat epilepsy in adults and older children (aged 12 years and over) is between 900mg and 3,600mg a day split into 3 doses
- treat nerve pain in adults is between 900mg and 3,600mg a day split into 3 doses
- prevent migraine in adults varies, but can be up to 2,400mg a day split into 3 doses
The dose of gabapentin used to treat epilepsy in younger children (aged 6 to 12 years) varies depending on their weight.
If you’re taking gabapentin as a liquid, 1ml is usually the same as taking a 50mg tablet or capsule. Always check the label.
How to take it
- Swallow gabapentin capsules and tablets whole with a drink of water or juice. Do not chew them.
- You can take gabapentin with or without food, but it’s best to do the same each day.
- Try to space your doses evenly through the day. For example, first thing in the morning, early afternoon and at bedtime.
- If you or your child are taking a liquid, it’ll come with a plastic syringe or spoon to measure your dose.
- Do not use a kitchen spoon, as it will not give the right amount.
- If you don’t have a spoon, ask your pharmacist for one.
Gaat mijn dosis omhoog of omlaag?
To prevent side effects, your doctor will prescribe a low dose to start with and then increase it over a few days. Once you find a dose that suits you, it’ll usually stay the same.
Hoe lang zal ik het nemen?
If you have epilepsy, it’s likely that once your illness is under control you’ll still need to take gabapentin for many years.
If you have nerve pain, it’s likely that once the pain has gone you’ll continue to take gabapentin for several months to stop it coming back.
Wat als ik het vergeet in te nemen?
- If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember.
- If it’s within 2 hours of the next dose, it’s better to leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.
- Neem nooit 2 doses tegelijk. Neem nooit een extra dosis om een vergeten dosis in te halen.
- If you have epilepsy, it’s important to take this medicine regularly. Missing doses may trigger a seizure.
- Als u vaak doses vergeet, kan het helpen om een alarm in te stellen om u eraan te herinneren.
- You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
Wat als ik te veel neem?
Taking too much gabapentin by accident can cause unpleasant side effects.
Urgent advice: Call your doctor or go to A&E straight away if:
You take too much gabapentin and:
- you feel dizzy or sleepy
- you see double
- you start slurring your words
- you have diarrhoea
- you pass out (faint)
If you need to go to hospital, take the gabapentin packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
Like all medicines, gabapentin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Vaak voorkomende bijwerkingen
These common side effects may happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They’re usually mild and go away by themselves. Keep taking the medicine, but talk to your doctor if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:
- feeling sleepy, tired or dizzy
- ziek voelen (misselijkheid)
- being sick (vomiting) and diarrhoea
- getting more infections than usual
- mood changes
- swollen arms and legs
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- difficulties for men getting an erection
- weight gain – gabapentin can make you feel hungry
- memory problems
Very few people taking gabapentin have serious problems. Call a doctor straight away if you have a serious side effect, including:
- thoughts of harming or killing yourself – a small number of people taking gabapentin have had suicidal thoughts, which can happen after only a week of treatment
- yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes – these may be warning signs of jaundice
- unusual bruises or bleeding – these may be warning signs of a blood disorder
- long-lasting stomach pain, feeling sick or vomiting – these may be warning signs of an inflamed pancreas
- muscle pain or weakness and you’re having dialysis treatment because of kidney failure
Ernstige allergische reactie
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to gabapentin.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- u krijgt huiduitslag die kan bestaan uit jeukende, rode, gezwollen, blaren of vervellende huid
- je piept
- je krijgt een beklemd gevoel op de borst of keel
- je hebt moeite met ademhalen of praten
- uw mond, gezicht, lippen, tong of keel beginnen op te zwellen
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital. These are not all the side effects of gabapentin. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.
Visit Yellow Card for further information.
6. Hoe om te gaan met bijwerkingen?
Wat te doen aan:
- feeling sleepy, tired or dizzy – as your body gets used to gabapentin, these side effects should wear off. If they don’t wear off within a week or two, your doctor may reduce your dose or increase it more slowly. If that doesn’t work, you may need to switch to a different medicine.
- ziek voelen (misselijkheid) – take gabapentin with or after a meal or snack. It may also help if you don’t eat rich or spicy food.
- being sick (vomiting) and diarrhoea – drink plenty of water or other fluids to avoid dehydration. Take small sips if you feel sick. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark strong-smelling pee. Do not take any other medicines to treat diarrhoea or vomiting without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.
- mood changes – if you feel this medicine is causing mood changes, talk to your doctor. You may be able to change to an alternative medicine.
- swollen arms and legs – try sitting with your feet raised and try not to stand for a long time. Gently exercising your arms might help. Talk to your doctor if this doesn’t get better.
- blurred vision – avoid driving or using tools or machines while this is happening. If it lasts for more than a day or two, speak to your doctor as they may need to change your treatment.
- a dry mouth – chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free sweets.
- difficulties for men getting an erection – speak to your doctor, as they may be able to change your medicine or offer other treatments that might help with this problem.
- weight gain – gabapentin can make you hungrier, so it can be quite a challenge to stop yourself putting on weight. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet without increasing your portion sizes. Do not snack on foods that contain a lot of calories, such as crisps, cakes, biscuits and sweets. If you feel hungry between meals, eat fruit and vegetables and low-calorie foods. Regular exercise will also help to keep your weight stable.
- memory problems – if you’re having problems with your memory, speak to your doctor. They may want to try a different medicine.
- headaches – make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking gabapentin. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.
7. Zwangerschap en borstvoeding
- Gabapentin is not generally recommended in pregnancy.
- There’s no firm evidence that it’s harmful to an unborn baby, but for safety pregnant women are usually advised to take it only if the benefits of the medicine outweigh the potential harm.
- If you take gabapentin for epilepsy and become pregnant, do not stop the medicine without talking to your doctor first.
- It’s very important that epilepsy is treated during pregnancy as seizures can harm you and your unborn baby.
- If you’re trying to get pregnant or have become pregnant, you’re routinely recommended to take at least 400mcg of a vitamin called folic acid everyday. It helps the unborn baby grow normally.
- Pregnant women who take gabapentin are recommended to take a higher dose of folic acid.
- Your doctor might prescribe a high dose of 5mg a day for you to take during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- If you take gabapentin around the time of giving birth, your baby may need extra monitoring for a few days after they’re born because they may have gabapentin withdrawal symptoms.
- For more information about how gabapentin can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read this leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
Gabapentin and breastfeeding
Usually, you can breastfeed while taking gabapentin. Check with your doctor first though if your baby is premature or has kidney problems.
Niet-dringend advies: Vertel het uw arts als u:
- proberen zwanger te worden
- borstvoeding geven
8. Waarschuwingen met andere medicijnen
There aren’t usually any problems mixing gabapentin with other medicines. Some indigestion remedies, called antacids, reduce the amount of gabapentin that the body takes in so it doesn’t work as well. To stop this happening, take an antacid at least 2 hours before or after your dose of gabapentin.
For safety, tell your doctor if you’re taking these medicines before you start gabapentin treatment:
- strong painkillers, such as morphine – these can increase the tiredness and dizziness you can feel when you start gabapentin
- antidepressants, such as amitriptyline or fluoxetine
- antipsychotic medicines for mental health problems like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- a medicine to prevent malaria called mefloquine
- a weight loss medicine called Orlistat – it may stop gabapentin working as well
Mixing gabapentin with herbal remedies or supplements
There are no known problems with taking herbal remedies and supplements with gabapentin.
Important: Medicine safety
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.
9. Veelgestelde vragen
- Hoe werkt gabapentine?
In epilepsy, it’s thought that gabapentin stops seizures by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain. With nerve pain and migraine, it’s thought to interfere with pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spine to block pain.
- Wanneer zal ik me beter voelen?
Het duurt een paar weken voordat gabapentine goed werkt. U kunt gedurende deze tijd nog steeds aanvallen of pijn hebben.
- Kan ik verslaafd raken aan gabapentine?
Some people have become addicted to gabapentin after taking it for a long time. If this happens, you’ll have withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking the medicine. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about becoming physically dependent on gabapentin.
- Kan ik gratis medicijnen tegen epilepsie krijgen?
If you have epilepsy, you’re entitled to free prescriptions for all of your medicines (not just your epilepsy ones). To claim your free prescriptions, you’ll need to have a medical exemption certificate.
The application form for the medical exemption certificate is called FP92A. You can get this from your doctor’s surgery. You’ll need to fill in the form, then your doctor will sign it and send it off.
- Zijn er soortgelijke geneesmiddelen als gabapentine?
-Pregabalin (also called Lyrica) is a medicine that works in a similar way to gabapentin. Like gabapentin, it’s taken for epilepsy and nerve pain. It can also be taken for anxiety. But there are differences between pregabalin and gabapentin.
Pregabalin can be taken less often and in different doses to gabapentin. If you need to change to pregabalin treatment, your doctor will explain how to safely swap from gabapentin.
- Is gabapentine een gecontroleerd geneesmiddel?
Gabapentin has been a controlled medicine since 1 April 2019. This means there are strict rules on how it’s prescribed and dispensed to make sure it’s not given to the wrong person or misused.
When you collect gabapentin your pharmacist will ask for proof of identity such as your passport or driving licence. You’ll also be asked to sign the back of your prescription, to confirm that you’ve received it. If you’re collecting gabapentin for someone else, you’re legally required to show the pharmacist proof of your identity if asked.
- Hoe haal ik een recept op voor een gecontroleerd geneesmiddel?
Your gabapentin prescription will probably need to be hand signed by a doctor. This can take longer than normal repeat prescriptions. It’s best to hand in your repeat prescription request up to five days before you’re due to run out of gabapentin. This will give your doctor enough time to sign it.
Once your prescription has been written, you’ll need to collect your medicine from a pharmacist within 28 days. If you don’t, your prescription will become invalid and you’ll need to get a new one.
If your pharmacist is unable to give you the whole amount prescribed, you’ll need to go again to pick up your remaining medicine. You’ll need to do this within the 28 days of receiving your prescription otherwise it’ll become invalid. Your pharmacist won’t be able to give you your remaining medicine and you’ll need to get a new prescription again.
- Moet ik me aan hetzelfde merk gabapentine houden?
Most people don’t have to stay on the same brand of gabapentin as there’s very little difference between brands. Talk to your doctor if you have been asked to switch to a different brand and are worried about that.
If your epilepsy has been hard to control in the past and the brand you’re now taking is working well for you, your doctor may recommend you stay on the same one.
- Is het veilig om het voor een lange tijd te gebruiken?
There’s no evidence that gabapentin has lasting harmful effects, even if you take it for many months or years.
- Wat gebeurt er als ik er vanaf kom?
Do not stop taking gabapentin suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause serious problems. If you have epilepsy, stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause seizures that will not stop. If you’re taking it for any reason and stop suddenly, you may have a severe withdrawal syndrome. This can have unpleasant symptoms, including:
It’s possible to prevent withdrawal seizures and other symptoms by gradually reducing the dose of gabapentin. Do not stop taking gabapentin without talking to your doctor – you’ll need to reduce your dose gradually.
- Kan ik er alcohol bij drinken?
Yes, you can drink alcohol with gabapentin. But it may make you feel sleepy or tired. During the first few days of taking gabapentin, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.
- Zal het mijn vruchtbaarheid beïnvloeden?
There’s no firm evidence to suggest that taking gabapentin will reduce fertility in either men or women. But speak to a pharmacist or your doctor before taking it if you’re trying to get pregnant.
- Heeft het invloed op mijn anticonceptie?
Gabapentin doesn’t affect any type of contraception, including the combined contraceptive pill and emergency contraception.
- Zullen recreatieve drugs het beïnvloeden?
Gabapentin can intensify the highs of recreational drugs like cannabis and heroin.
So, if you use recreational drugs alongside gabapentin, there may be more chance of unpleasant side effects like panic attacks, anxiety and memory loss.