Pregabalin, sold under the brand name Lyrica among others, is an anticonvulsant and anxiolytic medication. It is used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome and generalized anxiety disorder. It finds usage in epilepsy as an add-on therapy for partial seizures. When used before surgery, it reduces pain but results in greater sedation and visual disturbances. (1)
This drug was approved for medical use in the United States in 2004. It was developed as a successor to Gabapentin. In 2018, it was the 70th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 11 million prescriptions. (1)
How does it work?
Pregabalin functions by changing the way nerves send messages to the brain. When something presses on a nerve or a nerve does not function properly, it can send false messages to the brain. The brain thinks that a part of the body is being hurt even when it is not. This, in turn, makes us feel pain. By altering the way nerves work, this potent drug may reduce pain. (2)
Directions for usage
Available in capsule, solution and an extended-release tablet, Pregabalin is consumed orally and available only by prescription. It is usually consumed once daily, after an evening meal. The dosage is based on the patient’s medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce the risk of side effects, the concerned doctor may direct the patient to start the medication at a low dose and gradually increase the dosage. (3)
The oral capsule can cause dizziness, sleepiness and blurry vision. It may affect the ability to think, see, or move. The patient should not drive, use machinery, or do other tasks that require alertness until he is used to this drug. (4)
Some other side effects include: (4)
- Trouble concentrating
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Swelling of the hands or feet
Before commencing on a course of this anti-convulsant, a few precautions must be adhered to, namely: (4)
- Pregabalin may interact with other medications, vitamins or herbal products. To avoid such harmful interactions, the concerned doctor must be apprised of all the medication that the patient is on.
- The drug can cause serious allergic reactions, with symptoms like trouble in breathing, swelling of the face, mouth, lips, neck or tongue as well as rashes or blisters.
- The use of substances that contain alcohol can increase the risk of drowsiness and dizziness from Pregabalin. Patients should thus refrain from consuming alcohol while consuming this drug.
- In case a patient is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is best to consult the concerned doctor before consuming this anti-convulsant.
- Pregabalin passes into breast milk in small amounts. Therefore, it may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.
- Pregabalin may cause severe or life-threatening respiratory depression in people with underlying breathing problems.
- It may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in patients who have a history of depression or other mental health issues.
- The drug can worsen symptoms in patients with heart problems such as swelling in the arms, legs, or feet, weight gain, and fluid retention (swelling) in the body.
- Patients with kidney ailments may not be able to clear this drug from the body well. This may increase the levels of this drug and lead to side effects.
- It should not be consumed by children who are less than 18 years of age.
- In the case of senior citizens, this drug might affect the proper functioning of the kidneys. This can cause the body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, a higher amount of a drug stays in the body for a longer time and raises the risk of side effects.
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Shubham Pharmachem’s blog posts have been written with the information gathered from approved medical journals and websites online. Our research and technical team strive to provide relevant information through such articles. However, we strongly advise readers to not consume or administer any medication without prior consultation with their doctor.
- Wikipedia [online]
- WebMD [online]
- Healthline [online]