Gabapentin is a prescription medication used for the treatment of epilepsy and seizures. It is also used to treat the herpes virus, as well as shingles. It is FDA-approved for the treatment in adults and children ages 12 and older, and is sometimes used in small doses to treat epileptic children ages 3 and up. Side effects of gabapentin can be short- or long-term, lasting for hours or for several weeks or longer. Some side effects of gabapentin can be fatal. Discuss with your doctor any and all side effects you experience after taking gabapentin.
It is important that you take gabapentin exactly as prescribed. Do not alter or miss a dose of this medication. If you forget to take gabapentin, take it as soon as you remember, unless your next dose of gabapentin is within four hours of your missed dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and take only the regular dose, as otherwise you risk gabapentin overdose. Symptoms of gabapentin overdose include vision loss or blurry vision, diarrhea, feeling weak or drowsy and slurring speech. Seek emergency medical attention if you believe you are experiencing a gabapentin overdose.
Certain medical conditions and treatments can interact with or worsen as a result of taking gabapentin. It is important that you disclose your full medical history to your physician before taking gabapentin. Do not take gabapentin if you have a history of kidney, heart or liver disease without first discussing your condition with your doctor. It is important that you tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking gabapentin. gabapentin can pass into breast milk and cause negative effects on a breastfeeding child.
Long-Term Side Effects: Severe
Certain conditions can worsen as a result of taking gabapentin, and side effects can last for several hours, days, weeks or even longer. Some side effects of gabapentin can be fatal. It is very important that you seek emergency treatment if you experience any severe side effects as a result of taking gabapentin. Serious side effects related to gabapentin include an increase in the number of seizures you are having, or flu-like symptoms (including chills, fever or aches and pains), feeling disoriented or confused, rapid eye movement (particularly your eyes rapidly moving from left to right), feeling tremors or convulsions, or experiencing an increased number of easily attained bruises or skin discoloration.
Side Effects: Mild to Moderate
Some side effects of gabapentin are less severe and do not require immediate emergency care. It is still very important that you share any side effects or experiences you have as a result of taking gabapentin with your doctor, as she may need to adjust your dosage. Tell your doctor if you have been feeling dizzy, weak or tired after taking gabapentin. Also tell her if you experience coordination loss or blurry vision, or have been feeling nauseous, vomiting or have had a loss of appetite. Other mild to moderate effects which can last for a few hours, weeks or even longer include diarrhea, constipation, dryness of mouth, cold-like symptoms (runny nose, stuffy nose, headache), difficulty sleeping or skin rash (including itchy rash, as well as acne).
Because gabapentin is used to treat seizures, it is important that you wear a medical identification bracelet so that others are aware that you are taking gabapentin if such a seizure should occur. You should also be sure to tell any surgeon that you are taking gabapentin if you are planning to have a procedure of any kind, including dental surgery. Because gabapentin can affect your vision, it is important that you use extreme caution when driving a motor vehicle while taking this medication. Do not take any antacids for two hours after taking gabapentin, as an antacid can affect how gabapentin is absorbed into your system.