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Lyrica is a common FDA-approved medication belonging to a drug class called anti-epileptics. Available as an oral capsule and solution, the medication works by slowing down the impulses in the brain that may otherwise lead to seizures. Lyrica also alters certain chemicals in the brain to interrupt and manage pain signal conduction across the nervous system. Used for managing various conditions, such as nerve pain, fibromyalgia, post-herpetic neuralgia, and spinal cord injury, Lyrica can lead to certain unwanted side effects. Individuals using this drug for a long time must familiarize themselves with these potential side effects and understand how to minimize them for overall health.
Overview of Lyrica Side Effects and Risks
Following are some of the most common risks and side effects associated with Lyrica use:
Increased body weight is a relatively common side effect reported by many who participated in Lyrica clinical trials. People taking this medication for a longer duration are particularly at a higher risk of weight gain. However, experts are not sure whether this side effect is temporary or likely to last for a long time. Some also believe that because Lyrica can cause swelling of legs and arms, this swelling may also be a potential factor behind increased body weight. Another reason that explains weight gain is a heightened appetite that many users on pregabalin frequently report.
Many people taking Lyrica report feeling dizzy and lightheaded. This side effect was extremely common and affected the majority regardless of why they were taking the medication. Other symptoms of dizziness include loss of balance or a feeling like your head is spinning.
Sexual side effects
Some people may report feeling Lyrica side effects sexually, such as decreased libido. A heightened libido may also occur, but this side effect is rare.
In some people, Lyrica may lead to an allergic reaction with mild to serious symptoms, which may include the following:
- Skin rash
- Swelling of mouth, throat, and tongue, making breathing difficult
- Swelling under the skin, especially around lips, eyelids, feet, and hands
Low levels of platelets
Some people using Lyrica may experience a drop in a certain type of blood cell called platelets. The condition, known as thrombocytopenia, may lead to symptoms such as frequent nose bleeds, easy bruising, and bleeding longer than usual from minor wounds and cuts.
Depression and suicide risk
Lyrica is part of a drug class called antiepileptic medications. As with other members of this drug category, Lyrica can also increase a user’s risk of experiencing suicidal behaviors and thoughts. Lyrica may also increase the risk of acquiring depression or worsen the condition in people who already suffer from it. Many people using this medication frequently report experiencing unusual changes in their day-to-day mood and behavior.
Keep an eye on your mood and inform the doctor right away if you experience any new symptoms or worsening of any older issue related to the following:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Other erratic changes
Experts are not sure how many adults or children on Lyrica dose may experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Reporting these symptoms in time is the best way to prevent any harm.
Misuse, addiction, and overdose
Lyrica carries the potential to induce sedative effects, due to which many people eventually start abusing it. Misusing or abusing a drug means taking it differently than a medical expert prescribed it. If this misuse continues, an individual may develop an addiction. Lyrica addiction has been associated with widespread negative impacts on various aspects of life, such as personal, financial, and employment. Moreover, people who misuse Lyrica may also be at an increased risk of an overdose. Some important symptoms of Lyrica overdose to keep in mind include the following:
- Increased restlessness
- Heart issues
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased consciousness
If you are struggling to use Lyrica as prescribed or have concerns about misusing it, the best way out is to talk to a doctor to find a different medication for managing the underlying medical disorder.
Minimizing Lyrica Side Effects: Precautions and Warnings
To ensure that Lyrica is safe for use with minimal risk of side effects, keep the following precautions in mind:
- Do not use Lyrica if you are allergic to pregabalin.
- Do not give this medication to a young individual without seeking medical advice first. Remember that experts have not approved this medication for use by anyone under the age of 18 years for the management of diabetes, herpes zoster fibromyalgia, or spinal cord injury.
- Do not give Lyrica for seizure management for babies less than one month of age.
- Some people may develop suicidal thoughts while taking Lyrica. Hence, it is imperative to keep in touch with the doctor and schedule regular appointments so that they can monitor your mood change and advise accordingly.
- Educate your caregivers and family members to raise concerns if they report a loved one showing suicidal signs during Lyrica therapy.
- Keep in touch with a doctor and follow their instructions closely if you take Lyrica for seizure control during pregnancy. Seizures can be extremely dangerous for pregnant females and can harm both mother and baby, so do not stop taking them or change the dose without consulting an expert first.
- Consider adding your name to the pregnancy registry so an appropriate healthcare professional can keep monitoring Lyrica effects on the baby during pregnancy.
- Remember that using pregabalin formulations, such as Lyrica, can reduce sperm count and interfere with fertility in males. Animal studies have also indicated an incidence of birth defects in children born to males treated with pregabalin. While it is unknown whether humans can experience these side effects, it is best to discuss this with a doctor.
- Avoid breastfeeding while taking Lyrica and ask a doctor for an alternative.
If a doctor has prescribed you Lyrica and it is your first time taking this medication, ensure that they know if you. have any history of the following:
- Lung disease, for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart problems (such as congestive heart failure)
- A severe allergic reaction (angioedema)
- Depression, mood disorder, or suicidal thoughts
- A bleeding disorder, or low levels of platelets
- Diabetes (unless you are taking Lyrica to manage diabetic neuropathy)
- Kidney disease (especially if you are on dialysis)
- Past or current substance use disorder
Taking Lyrica Safely: Instructions to Follow
To ensure that you take Lyrica safely without any unwanted side effects, keep the following instructions in mind:
- Take Lyrica exactly as a doctor has prescribed it. Follow all directions on the prescription label and go through the instruction sheets.
- Take the medication at designated times every day, with or without food.
- Swallow the tablet whole without breaking, chewing, or crushing an extended-release tablet.
- If you are using Lyrica liquid, measure the medicine using the dosing syringe that comes with the medication. If you do not have one, get a new dose-measuring device from the pharmacist.
- If your symptoms do not improve or get worse despite using Lyrica, contact a doctor/
- Never stop using Lyrica on your own, even if you have started feeling better. Stopping cold turkey can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and may trigger seizures. A doctor can help you formulate a tapering plan based on which you can slowly reduce the drug until you completely stop it.
- Store your medication at room temperature, away from heat, light, and moisture, to preserve its formulation and effectiveness.
- Carry a medical identification badge in case of emergency and let others know you are taking Lyrica for seizure control.
When to Talk to a Doctor
Anyone can experience side effects while using Lyrica. For most people, these side effects are mild and resolve on their own with time; however, some individuals may experience serious impacts. The best time to talk to a doctor is when the side effects secondary to Lyrica use become too intense that they start interfering with your life. A doctor can guide you about how to manage these side effects or may switch you to a different medication for better management with minimal discomfort.
In addition to talking to an expert, consider conducting research on your own through legit sources of medication information. It is worth educating yourself on the following topics in particular:
More information about Lyrica and other forms of pregabalin in general
Drug comparisons to learn how Lyrica compares with other similar medications
Dosage information to educate yourself about different dosages of Lyrica commonly available
Common drug interactions to understand which other OTC and prescription medications can interact with Lyrica and cause side effects.
What are the most common Lyrica side effects?
While the medication can lead to myriads of side effects hypothetically, the most commonly reported negative impacts include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Swelling of legs and arms
- Blurry vision
Will the side effects of Lyrica vary depending on the strength of the medication?
Lyrica is available in different formulations, such as 35 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg. The risk of side effects can potentially heighten if you are taking a higher strength because a higher dose exposes the body to more drugs, and when this drug leaves the system, the possibility of side effects increases. So to put it simply, a person taking 25 mg of this medication may experience lesser side effects than someone consuming a higher dose, for example, 200 mg. However, this risk also varies depending on other factors, such as personal health and tolerance to the drug.
Are there more chances of Lyrica side effects in the elderly?
In most cases, people of the older age group, i.e., 65 years and above, are at a similar risk of side effects as young adults. According to clinical trials, experts did not catch any significant differences in terms of efficacy or safety of Lyrica use in older adults compared to younger ones. At the same time, some experts believe that older adults using Lyrica for fibromyalgia treatment may be at a higher risk of experiencing certain side effects, such as dizziness, difficulty with coordination or balance, blurry vision, sleepiness, confusion, and body tremors. If you are an older adult and are worried about the potential side effects secondary to Lyrica use, talk to a pharmacist or doctor about what to watch out for and how to minimize any risks.
Are there any Lyrica side effects long-term duration?
It is possible for people using Lyrica to develop long-term side effects, some of which may convert into permanent issues. However, remember that these long-term side effects are not very common. Some examples include suicidal thoughts and behaviors and depression, apart from a condition called rhabdomyolysis which may cause damage to kidneys and other organs. If you are particularly worried about the long-term side effects of taking Lyrica, talk to a pharmacist or doctor about these risks and the best ways to manage them. They can also guide you about the best ways to manage these risks and side effects and possibly resolve them before they become long-term in certain cases.
What if I miss a dose of Lyrica?
If you miss a prescribed dose of Lyrica, the best thing to do is take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose by the time you remember, omit the missing dose and continue taking the medication as regularly, as doubling may cause Lyrica side effects.
How long do Lyrica side effects last?
The duration of side effects may vary from one person to another. In most cases, dizziness and sleepiness resolve within one to two weeks, while other symptoms may take some time to go away. Talk to a doctor to discuss these timelines more accurately based on your history and personal circumstances.
Can Lyrica make you sleepy?
Lyrica can induce dizziness, sedation, and even sleepiness in certain individuals. Hence, experts recommend not driving or controlling heavy machinery unless they are sure how this medication affects them.
Can Lyrica cause depression?
There have been increasing cases of depression in people using Lyrica, provoking experts to investigate the link. The medication can also lead to low mood.