Gabapentin for RLS Patients

Last updated: March 28, 2019

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition where the muscles on the legs of a person twitch or move uncontrollably. This often happens while someone is relaxing or lying down. This is why it is considered a sleeping disorder. It prevents a person from sleeping properly. And if you cannot sleep properly, your health and well-being may suffer. You’re going to miss out on the many health benefits of sleeping.

With proper diagnosis by a medical practitioner, there are ways to minimize if not completely eliminate the symptoms of RSL.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription drug. It is used together with other medications to prevent and control seizures. Adults can also use it to relieve nerve pain resulting from shingles. If you don’t know what shingles is, it is a painful rash caused by the herpes zoster infection.

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug. Although it is called antiepileptic, it cannot cure epilepsy. What it does is it controls seizures for as long as the patient continues taking the medicine.

Gabapentin is available in capsule, tablet, solution, or suspension. You can get it in oral capsule form as the brand-name drug Neurontin. Gabapentin is also available as a generic drug. Whether as a brand-name drug or as a generic version, this drug is available in different forms and strengths.

What is the proper dosage of Gabapentin?

The dosage that a doctor prescribes depends on a lot of factors. Your doctor will have to take into consideration the type and severity of the condition that you want to treat using Gabapentin. They also need to consider your age and other medical conditions you may have. The dosage will also depend on the form of Gabapentin you will take.

Your physician will likely give you the lowest dosage first. This will allow your body to get used to the medication. Your doctor will then gradually adjust it over time. The dosage will gradually increase until you reach the dosage that’s right for you.

To minimize side effects, your doctor will likely prescribe to you the smallest dosage that can provide you with the desired effects.

Whatever dosage your doctor prescribes to you, make sure that you read the medication guide provided by the pharmacist. Ask the pharmacist or your doctor if there is something in the guide that you don’t understand.

What else should I know before taking Gabapentin?

Gabapentin should not be taken if you are taking CNS depressants. CNS depressants can make you drowsy and Gabapentin will induce the effects of such medications. Common CNS depressants include antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers or other medicines for seizures.

You should not stop taking Gabapentin immediately unless you experience serious side effects. Check with your doctor before doing so. If you abruptly stop taking Gabapentin, it can cause seizures. Your doctor can gradually decrease the prescribed dosage before discontinuing the use of the medication. This way, your body can slowly and properly adjust to the lack of Gabapentin in your body.

What kind of side effects can I expect from Gabapentin?

The side effects of Gabapentin can be mild or serious. Common side effects should go away after a few days of use. Some common side effects of Gabapentin include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Double vision
  • Tremors
  • Reduced vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pains

There are side effects that should prompt you to discontinue the medication. If you experience any of the side effects listed below, stop taking Gabapentin immediately and get in touch with your physician.

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Gabapentin can also cause serious and sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions. These can include:

  • Skin Rashes
  • Hives
  • Swollen face, lips, and tongue
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • Frequent infections
  • Swollen glands
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these side effects.

Can Gabapentin be abused?

The answer to that question is yes. There have been reports that Gabapentin has become an abused drug. This is because of the euphoric high that users get from the drug. In a 2014 study, they found that almost 25% of those in substance-abuse clinics reported that they abused Gabapentin.

Is it true that Gabapentin can make me gain weight?

Unfortunately, yes it can cause weight gain. However, this should not be enough reason to discount the positive effects that this medicine can do for those who suffer from RLS. You just need to watch your diet and exercise on a regular basis.

Gabapentin can cause an increase in appetite. When it does, you might crave foods high in carbohydrates or fat. The weight gain can also be a result of the decrease in the metabolic rate. Just to be clear though, weight gain as an effect of a prescription drug is not a simple issue. There are many factors to consider. It is also not a sure effect of the drug. It can cause weight gain in one patient but not to another.

RLS is disruptive and can deprive a person of sleep that is badly needed. Gabapentin is a medicine that can help reduce if not completely eliminate the symptoms of RLS. Consult your doctor and make sure that you have a complete understanding of what this drug does and what to expect from it so you can minimize the potential negative effects it might have on your body.

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.