Monday Medicine – Gabapentin vs Lyrica



Gabapentin vs Lyrica,  what are they and why are they prescribed for someone.

Sometimes I am laying there trying to fall asleep and there is a pain that is so bad in my legs that no matter what I take, has helped.  My feet feel like they are on fire and itching.  All this started after my last surgery and the surgeon said that it is nerve pain from having to cut into the same nerves over and over. But nerve pain can be caused by about 100 or so different things.

About 1 in every 50 Americans sufferer from nerve pain.  Here is just a short list of what may cause it to happen to you.

  • autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Trauma
  • Diabetes
  • some drugs and side effects
  • infectious diseases (Lyme disease, HIV, and Hepatitis C)

And the list goes on.  So now that you know what you have, what can you take to help control it.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)helps to control electrical activity in the brain. This reduces the chances of having seizures. Gabapentin may be taken in addition to other medicines to treat epilepsy. Gabapentin is also listed to be used to treat peripheral neuropathic pain such as occurs in diabetes and shingles. I take Gabapentin three-time a day to help with the nerve pain and the feeling I get that my feet or on fire from nerve damage.

Lyrica (pregabalin) is also an anti-epileptic drug, also called an anticonvulsants. It works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Lyrica also affects chemicals in the brain that send pain signals across the nervous system.Lyrica is used to control seizures and to treat fibromyalgia. It is also used to treat pain caused by nerve damage in people with diabetes(diabetic neuropathy),  or neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury

Gabapentin does come with some side effects that you should know about.  Here is the

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of Gabapentin are:

  • dizziness
  • sleepiness
  • ataxia (loss of control of bodily movement)
  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • fluid retention
  • hostility
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Common side effects of Lyrica include:

  • infection
  • peripheral edema (swelling of the limbs)
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • blurred vision
  • ataxia (loss of control of bodily movement)
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • diplopia (double vision)
  • drowsiness
  • tremor
  • visual field loss
  • xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • accidental injury.

The recommended dose for Gabapentin is 1800 mg daily in 3 divided doses or 1800 mg once daily. Both Gabapentin and Lyrica are taken by mouth. The difference is Lyrica is taken at 300 mg a day vs 1800 mg.

Basically, Lyrica and Gabapentin are the exact same in what they both treat.  I started out taking Lyrica and had to switch to Gabapentin because I had less side effects with the Gabapentin than with Lyrica.  In doing the research for this post, I read several post and articles where people said the exact same thing. Overall, Lyrica has many more side effects listed for it then Gabapentin does.

One major side effect that I didn’t list above but needs to be mentioned with great emphasize on it, is both medications can cause changes in moods, especially depression.  If you are like me, and already have a history of depression, then you need to tell your doctor prior to taking either one of these medications before the first dosage.  That way the doctor can keep an eye on you and increase and decrease the medications as he/she sees fit.  And each body can process Gabapentin or Lyrica differently so how I react to a medicine, may not be as you might. Both Lyrica and Gabapentin can cause depression and or moodiness.  This isn’t something to be taken lightly when talking about your mental health.

With any medicines, please check with your doctor about any interactions with any other medicines.  Even though I have found that Gabapentin works better for me, doesn’t mean that it will work for you.  But if it doesn’t work or the other way around, know that there is another medication that you can take for nerve pain.

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