What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin, often marketed under the name Neurontin, is an anti-epileptic medication. This is also called an anticonvulsant. The medicine affects nerves and chemicals in the body that are involved in the causes of seizures. It also affects the part of the body that cause some types of pain.
When it comes to pain, Gabapentin is recommended as a first-line treatment for central pain. This central pain being caused by the malfunction or at times damage to the Central Nervous System. This causes a sensitization of the pain system. The areas affected are related to what cause there was to the injury. It’s been found much evidence supporting that Gabapentin, combined with morphine, is better than either of these two drugs alone.
A 2010 review might also tell us that Gabapentin could be helpful when having neuropathic pain caused by cancer. The drug is not effective when the pain is associated with HIV. Neither does the drug help with chronic pain after surgery, nor pain following a knee replacement.
How Does Gabapentin Work?
The way Gabapentin works is not fully understood. What is appears to do, however, is to stabilize electrical activity in the brain. It does this by affecting the release of neurotransmitters from nerve cells, both in the brain and in the spinal cord.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter thought to play a huge role in being the cause of epileptic seizures. Therefore, if Gabapentin affects the release of neurotransmitters, it seems only obvious that it’s the reason for the drug being so effective for patients suffering from epilepsy.
Benefits of Gabapentin
One of the biggest benefits of the Gabapentin drug is the fact that it seems to be extremely versatile. Having the ability to stabilize electrical activity in the brain, let’s it treat a huge variety of symptoms. It’s important to remember, however, that not all the symptoms listed above have been approved to be treated by Gabapentin.
Another great thing about the drug is the fact that it’s rather cheap, compared to other drugs. This combined with its different uses, it’s good for those who might now have money to pay for expensive drugs and treatments.
Side Effects of Gabapentin
There are some very common, some common, and some side effects with unknown frequency to the Gabapentin drug.
The very common side effects, that affect more than 1 in 10 of users, are sleepiness or fatigue, dizziness, shaky movements, and unsteady walk, fever and viral infractions.
Common side effects, affecting anything from 1 in 10 to 1 in 100 users, are side-effects like depression and mood swings, anxiety, sleeping difficulty, speech problems, weight gain, pain in the back, headaches, changes in appetite, and so on. The list of common side-effects is long, but the common ones aren’t very serious. One side-effect may be worth noting is Impotence, with other words erectile dysfunction.
Some more serious side effects with an unknown frequency, is acute kidney failure, hallucinations, inflammation of the pancreas and inflammation of the liver, otherwise known as hepatitis. If you get sudden severe stomach pain or feel like having to vomit after taking Gabapentin, contact your doctor immediately.
Some extremely serious side effects are thoughts of suicide or dying, attempts to commit suicide, panic attacks and anger / aggressive or violent behavior. Although not very frequent, these side effects do happen to some.
Gabapentin for Opiate Withdrawal
For most men and women trying to stop taking a type of opiate drug, especially after an ongoing use of it, it’s hard and extremely uncomfortable. The opiate drug relieves pain and gives the user a type of euphoric, close to a “High” feeling. Because of this, it’s not uncommon that users get addicted to the drug. Some get so addicted they continue using it, even when the source of the pain is gone.
This is where the Gabapentin helps. When you’re done with an opiate treatment, your pain-sensitivity levels might be higher than what they were before the treatment. The Gabapentin helps with this pain. It does this by slowing down the pain signals being sent from our pain system, as they travel through our nerves.
There are a few differences when it comes to how the users experience it. For some, the drug might help right away. Some don’t feel any pain relief at all unless a higher dose of Neurontin is given, some might not even feel any help at all. The treatments help might also begin to fade after time.
One needs to take some precautions before taking the drug. For example, dosages of the drug depend on several factors, such as your age, how severe the condition is, other medical conditions, how you react to the first dose and maybe most importantly, what condition the drug will be treating.