Gabapentin

Sounds like 'gab-a-pen-tin'

Easy-to-read medicine information about gabapentin – what it is, how to take gabapentin safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Anticonvulsant (to treat epilepsy)
 OR
  • Analgesic (pain killer)
  • Neurontin®
  • Nupentin®
  • Arrow- Gabapentin®
  • Ranbaxy-Gabapentin®

What is gabapentin?

  • Gabapentin has many uses.
  • Gabapentin works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain.

Dose

  • The dose of gabapentin will be different for different people. Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose and increase the dose over a few days. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces unwanted side effects.
  • Always take your gabapentin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much gabapentin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.  

How to take gabapentin

  • Take gabapentin at the same times each day.
  • Swallow the tablets or capsules with a glass of water.
  • Gabapentin is not affected by food so you can take it before or after food. Try taking gabapentin with food if it makes you feel sick (nausea).
  • Limit or avoid alcohol while taking gabapentin. Combining gabapentin and alcohol can make your more sleepy, drowsy or dizzy.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the amount.
  • Do not stop taking gabapentin suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, gabapentin can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Stomach upset, feeling sick (nausea)
  • Try taking gabapentin with food.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Feeling tired, sleepy, or dizzy 
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you
  • Headache 
  • This may go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Ankle or leg swelling
  • Tell your doctor
  • Frequent mood changes, depression, or worsening depression, aggressive tendencies, thoughts or attempts of suicide, and abnormal behaviours.
     
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine
  • Skin rash, lip or tongue swelling.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine

Interactions

  • Gabapentin may interact with a number of important medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting gabapentin or before starting any new medicines.
  • Do not take antacid preparations during the two hours before you are due to take gabapentin, or during the two hours after you have taken a dose.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet:
Neurontin  
Nupentin

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Gabapentin

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Dr Janine Bycroft, GP, Health Navigator NZ