Overview Of Pregabalin (Lyrica)

Pregabalin, often sold under the brand Lyrica, is an oral prescription medication. It is available as an extended-release tablet, solution, or capsule. This medication is a controlled substance and has some risk of dependency. Thus, doctors must closely monitor their patient's reactions to this medication. 

This medication is a major fibromyalgia treatment. It also helps treat diabetic nerve pain. Pregabalin is also a pain treatment for nerve damage caused by spinal cord injury, shingles, or certain degenerative nervous system diseases. Of course, it is most common as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy. It may also be used as part of a patient's epilepsy treatment to prevent seizures. However, it may need to be combined with other seizure medications for this purpose. 

How It Works

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Pregabalin is an anticonvulsant. This class of medication is typically used to treat seizures, nerve issues, and similar conditions. This medication has been proven to work. However, researchers are unsure of precisely how it does. The theory is that it calms pulses from the overactive or damaged nerves within the body. This helps reduce both pain and seizure activity. The medication reduces abnormal electrical pulses in the brain in epilepsy patients. It interrupts pain messages somewhere along the spinal cord or inside the brain for individuals with nerve pain. 

If this medication is prescribed to treat certain anxiety disorders, it prevents the brain from releasing anxiety-inducing chemicals. Most patients are prescribed doses to take either twice or three times per day. There will be several weeks before the drug shows effects. 

Reveal the main uses and benefits of this medication next.

Uses And Benefits

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Seizures in epilepsy are caused when unusual electrical activity floods the brain. This medication slows the pulses to make them less likely to cause seizures. It is also one of only a select few drugs that have been specifically approved to treat fibromyalgia. This is a chronic condition that causes ongoing aches and fatigue. It can be challenging to diagnose and treat. 

The Food And Drug Administration has also approved this medication to treat other conditions. This includes diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by herpes zoster, and pain due to an old or healing spinal cord injury. This medication may also treat partial-onset seizures. It may be used for this purpose in anyone over one month old. Some doctors may prescribe this medication off-label to treat anxiety or nerve damage caused by other diseases.

Get the details on the potential side effects next.

Potential Side Effects

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It is common to experience blurry vision, sleepiness, and dizziness during the first few weeks of taking this medication. Patients must not operate machinery or drive until they are aware of the drug's effects. There may also be effects on an individual's cognition and motor skills. In addition to these, the other most common side effects are difficulty concentrating, dry mouth, weight gain, and swelling of the feet and hands. Most of the time, these effects will be mild. 

If patients experience serious side effects, they will need to call their doctor right away. Some side effects may be a medical emergency. Serious side effects include heart problems and severe allergic reactions. Patients should immediately tell their doctor about any mood changes they experience. These changes include odd mood swings, delusions, irritability, or suicidal thoughts. Heart problems may be hard to spot. They may present with chest pain or further swelling in the extremities. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include a rash, severe swelling, and difficulty breathing.

Discover precautions linked to this medication next.

Precautions To Remember

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It is vital to be aware of all precautions regarding this medication. Some patients might experience severe allergic reactions, which can be life-threatening if not treated. Patients should call 911 for a severe allergic reaction. If individuals drink alcohol with this medication, there is a much higher chance of dizziness and drowsiness. Patients with kidney problems may struggle to clear the drug. This means that an average dose could have significant side effects. 

Pregabalin may also make pre-existing heart conditions worse. For those with a history of mental health problems, the medication might worsen symptoms. It can lead to erratic behaviors, mood swings, and suicidal actions. Individuals with mental health issues must monitor their reactions to the medication carefully. As a controlled substance, pregabalin has the potential to be misused. Doctors may want to start with a different medication.

Uncover potential medication interactions next.

Potential Medication Interactions

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In addition to interacting with prescription medications, pregabalin might interact with certain vitamins and supplements. Thus, patients need to tell their doctor about all the supplements and medications they take. Certain diabetes medications, including pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, can cause side effects. These effects include weight gain and swelling of the feet and hands. Patients should not mix these with pregabalin if they have heart conditions. This is because they can increase their overall risk of heart failure. 

Opioids and other narcotic pain medications may cause sleepiness and dizziness when combined with pregabalin. The same is true of anxiety medications like benzodiazepines. Some blood pressure medications may also interact with pregabalin and cause hives and swelling. The most common ones are lisinopril, enalapril, and captopril. This is not an exhaustive list, so patients must still ask their doctor about interactions.

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    Katherine MacAulay