Neurontin is the brand name of the generic drug Gabapentin which is used for the treatment of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a condition where a patient has uncontrollable and unanticipated seizures. Neurontin belongs to a group of drugs that falls into the category called anticonvulsants. In recent times researchers have found that this drug is effective in relieving neuropathic pain, but the effectiveness of the drug is still in in question due to concerns regarding the trials conducted. Research is still going on about the drug's possible effectiveness in treating migraines, pain management and bipolar disorder.
How the drug affect the brain in soothing the seizures is not entirely known. But, Neurontin was developed as a drug that imitates the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is responsible for calming the nerves.
• Controlling Seizures
Many countries have approved Neurontin as an effective medicine to control focal seizures. It is also known to be effective in treating partial and even mixed seizures.
The common side effects of Neurontin include drowsiness, fatigue, weight gain, dizziness and peripheral edema. The effects worsen with age and with higher doses. Observations in children suggest that cases of mild mood swings, hyper activity, hostile nature and lack of concentration occurs. Though rare, hepatotoxicity, a kind of liver damage, has also been observed.
Another side effect of neurontin is that patients who take the drug have a higher risk of suicides. Violent deaths among those who take the drug also have been reported in significant numbers. Neurontin causes the patients to have suicidal thoughts, mood swings and depression.
Neurontin, like many other drugs, can have the patients display withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly. The symptoms are similar to that of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. They include sleeplessness, anxiety, confusion, restlessness, light sensitivity, palpitations and hypertension. Abrupt cessation of the drug could cause, though rarely, seizures even in individuals with no epilepsy.
Usually children under the age of 3, who suffer from epilepsy, are not given neurontin. The reason for this restriction is merely because there is not enough research done to find out whether this drug is safe to use in children.
Also, children under the age of 18 are not given this drug to relieve neuropathic pain. Again the reason behind is that there are not enough trials conducted to know more about it.
• Those who have allergies to any anticonvulsant medicines should discuss the matter with the doctor before proceeding to take Neurontin. Any allergies like food, medicine or dyes should be revealed to the doctor so that he can take an informed decision.
• If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy then, your doctor must know it since it might affect the growth of your baby. At the same time, it is important that you control the seizures as it also poses a danger to the baby. Your doctor would be the best person to suggest a solution.
• Your medical history- It is extremely important that the doctor should know about your medical history. This includes any previous disease like kidney or liver disease and any allergy to any medicines.
• Breast feeding mothers can pass the medicine and its side effects to the baby. It is therefore advised that nursing mothers should discuss the matter with their doctor. If indeed you must continue the medicine, the baby should be closely monitored for any side effects like allergic reactions.
• If you use any other medications including prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements, the doctor should be told about it.
The most common side effect of any medicine is allergic reactions. Here are some symptoms of allergic reactions that will help you identify it.
• Be aware of the side effects- The first thing anyone using Neurontin should do is to have a thorough knowledge of side effects and the symptoms. This will help you in identifying whether the drug has any adverse effect or not.
• Contacting the Doctor- Any doubts regarding the medicine or side effects should be immediately cleared with your doctor. Also, any mood swings or suicidal thoughts, if it occurs, should be discussed.
• Only take the medicine in the prescribed doses and at the specified times.
• Keep all your appointments with the doctor so that he can keep track of your progress.