What is gabapentin used for?

Gabapentin is commonly used to treat and prevent seizures in people with epilepsy or to treat nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia) that can occur after a viral infection called shingles.

Gabapentin may also be used for other conditions as determined by your healthcare provider.

How does gabapentin work (mechanism of action)?

The exact way that gabapentin works for nerve pain or seizures is unknown. Gabapentin may block certain signals from nerves. Seizures are caused by electrical activity in the brain that is not normal. Gabapentin may interfere with the abnormal electrical activity of the brain.

How is gabapentin supplied (dosage forms)?

Gabapentin is available as Gralise, Neurontin, and generic gabapentin in the following dosage forms that are taken by mouth.

  • 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg oral capsules
  • 250 mg/5 mL oral solution
  • 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, 450 mg, 600 mg, 750 mg, 800 mg, 900 mg oral tablets

How should I store gabapentin?

Oral Tablet and Oral Capsule. Gabapentin oral tablets and oral capsules should be stored at room temperature, between 68 F to 77 F (20 C to 25 C). It can be exposed to temperatures between 59 F to 86 F (15 C to 30 C), for shorter periods of time, such as when transporting it. Store in a cool, dry place. Keep in a tightly closed container.

Oral Liquid. Gabapentin oral liquid should be stored in a refrigerator, between 36 F to 46 F (2 C to 8 C).

Side Effects

What are the most common side effects of gabapentin?

The most common side effects of gabapentin are listed below. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of these side effects that bother you.

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness and tiredness
  • Swelling of hands, legs, or feet
  • Trouble with balance or coordination
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Infection and fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aggressive behavior

There may be other side effects of gabapentin that are not listed here. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you are having a side effect of a medicine. In the U.S., you can report side effects to the FDA at or by calling 800-FDA-1088. In Canada, you can report side effects to Health Canada at or by calling 866-234-2345.

What are the serious side effects of gabapentin?

While less common, the most serious side effects of gabapentin are described below, along with what to do if they happen.

Severe Allergic Reactions. Gabapentin can cause allergic reactions, including DRESS, which can be serious. DRESS stands for Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms. It is also sometimes called multiorgan hypersensitivity. This is a reaction that can affect multiple parts of the body, including your liver, kidneys, and heart. Stop taking gabapentin and get help right away if you have any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.

  • Swelling of the face, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Breathing problems or wheezing
  • Racing heart
  • Fever or general ill feeling
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble swallowing or throat tightness
  • Itching, skin rash, or pale red bumps on the skin called hives
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or fainting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turning yellowish in color (also called jaundice)

Breathing Problems. Gabapentin may cause slow and shallow breathing, especially if you have breathing problems from another condition or take other medicines that can slow your breathing. See the Interactions section for more details. Tell your healthcare provider if you develop severe sleepiness, especially when you start gabapentin or when your dose is increased. Get emergency help if you have any of the following symptoms.

  • Changes in the color of your skin, including bluish color to your lips and fingernails
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or fainting
  • Changes in your heart rate or rhythm, such as a fast, slow, pounding or skipping heartbeat
  • Fast breathing or very slow breathing

Sleepiness, Dizziness, and Driving Impairment. Gabapentin may cause dizziness and sleepiness and can impair your ability to safely drive. Do not drive or do other activities that require alertness or coordination like operating heavy machinery until you know how gabapentin affects you. How long gabapentin may impair your ability to drive is unknown. Ask your healthcare provider when you can drive or do other activities.

Suicidal Thoughts and Actions. Gabapentin may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a small number of people. If you are about to harm yourself, call 911 or call or text 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms.

  • New or increased thoughts of suicide or death
  • Suicide attempt
  • New or increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or other unusual changes in mood or behavior

Changes in Behavior and Thinking. Children between 3 and 12 years of age taking certain forms of gabapentin may have emotional changes; school performance changes; or develop aggressive behavior, restlessness, hyperactivity, or concentration problems. Tell your child’s healthcare provider if you notice changes in your child’s behavior or thinking.

Warnings & Precautions

Who should not use gabapentin?

Allergies to Ingredients. People who are allergic to any of the following should not take gabapentin.

  • Gralise
  • Neurontin
  • Gabapentin
  • Any of the ingredients in the specific product dispensed

Your pharmacist can tell you all the ingredients in the specific gabapentin products they stock.

What should I know about gabapentin before using it?

Do not take gabapentin unless it has been prescribed to you by a healthcare provider. Take it as prescribed. Different forms of gabapentin are not interchangeable even if the strength is the same. Always follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider, and take the specific medicine prescribed to you.

Do not stop taking gabapentin without talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause side effects, including seizures. If you need to stop taking gabapentin, your healthcare provider will give you instructions on how to stop the medicine.

Do not share gabapentin with other people, even if they have the same condition as you. It may harm them.

Keep gabapentin out of the reach of children. As the oral liquid must be kept in a refrigerator, take special precautions to keep it away from children who also use the refrigerator.

Some forms of gabapentin need to be taken with food. If you are unsure whether or not to take your medicine with food, ask your healthcare provider.

Do not chew, cut, or crush gabapentin capsules. Swallow them whole with water.

Some gabapentin tablets should not be chewed, cut, or crushed. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best way to take your medicine. If you are told that it is okay to split a gabapentin tablet in half, take the other half at the time you are supposed to take your next dose. Throw away any unused half tablets within 28 days.

People who are 65 years of age or older can be at a greater risk for some side effects of gabapentin. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risks if you are in this age group.

For gabapentin oral liquid, use an accurate measuring device to measure your dose. A household spoon is not an accurate measuring device and may cause you to take the wrong dose. Ask your pharmacist to recommend an appropriate measuring device.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before using gabapentin?

Tell your healthcare provider about all of your health conditions and any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins/minerals, herbal products, and other supplements you are using. This will help them determine if gabapentin is right for you.

Current and Past Health Conditions. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following.

  • Kidney problems or on dialysis
  • Breathing problems
  • Diabetes
  • Seizures (if you are taking gabapentin for another reason)

Mental Health Problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any recent and current mental health problems, especially if you have had thoughts of suicide, have ever attempted suicide, or have depression or mood problems.

Other Medicines and Supplements. Gabapentin may interact with other medicines and supplements. Before taking gabapentin, tell your healthcare provider about any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins/minerals, herbal products, and other supplements you are using. See the Interactions section for more details.

Pregnancy. It is not known if or how gabapentin could affect pregnancy or harm an unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you are or plan to become pregnant. Your healthcare provider will advise you if you should take gabapentin while you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. You can register for the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry by calling 888-233-2334 if you become pregnant. This registry collects safety information about the use of anticonvulsant medicines during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding. Gabapentin passes into breast milk. Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Your healthcare provider will advise you if you should take gabapentin while breastfeeding.


Does gabapentin interact with foods or drinks?

There are no known interactions between gabapentin and foods or drinks.

Do not drink alcohol while taking gabapentin. The risk for serious problems such as severe dizziness and sleepiness may be increased if you drink alcohol while taking gabapentin.

Does gabapentin interact with other medicines (drug interactions)?

Always tell your healthcare provider about any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins/minerals, herbal products, and other supplements you are using.

In particular, make sure that you discuss if you are using any of the following before taking gabapentin.

  • An antacid containing aluminum and magnesium, such as Maalox
  • Any other medicine that causes dizziness or sleepiness (e.g., prescription pain medicines, such as oxycodone or morphine; sleep medicines, such as zolpidem; and medicines for anxiety, such as lorazepam)
  • Other gabapentin medicines, such as Horizant
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Overdose/Missed Dose

What should I do if I accidentally use too much gabapentin?

If you or someone else has taken too much gabapentin, get medical help right away, call 911, or contact a Poison Control center at 800-222-1222.

What should I do if I miss a dose of gabapentin?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember with food. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and only take the next dose at your scheduled time. Do not take double or extra doses.

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