Estimated reading time: 31 minute(s)
Commonly available as Lyrica, pregabalin is an FDA-approved medication used to manage seizures. The medication comes in the form of solution and oral capsules and works by reducing the abnormal activity in the brain that may otherwise cause seizures. Additionally, the drug also changes certain chemical secretions in the brain to better manage pain. Millions of people are taking pregabalin to manage conditions such as post-herpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, and injuries to the spinal cord.
Despite having a highly beneficial profile, many people also report experiencing pregabalin side effects. For someone who is just beginning therapy with pregabalin, it is imperative to familiarize themselves with these side effects to better understand what can be expected and how to avoid them.
Pregabalin Side Effects Overview
Following are some of the most common Lyrica side effects to expect:
Weight gain is quite common in people taking pregabalin, as confirmed by various study trials. The risk is particularly higher in people taking it for a longer duration. So far, experts are unsure whether to categorize weight gain under pregabalin side effects long-term or to consider it a short-term issue. Others believe that this medication has the potential to cause swelling in arms and legs, which may contribute to an increased body weight. An increased appetite due to this medication may also contribute to weight gain.
Dizziness is one of the most common and most dangerous pregabalin side effects in elderly patients. Many users report feeling lightheaded and dizzy while on this medication, sometimes to the extent that it may make them lose balance and cause falls.
Many people report a dip in their libido while they are on pregabalin. Others may report an increased libido; however, this remains uncommon.
Some people are naturally more sensitive to pregabalin and may develop an allergic reaction to it. The common symptoms include a skin rash, itching, tongue, mouth, and throat, flushing of the skin, and swelling of the feet, hands, eyelids, and lips.
Certain people using pregabalin may experience a drop in platelets, a type of blood cells responsible for clotting blood and stopping active bleeding. This condition is known as thrombocytopenia, and it may lead to issues like easy bruising, longer bleeding times, and frequent nose bleeds.
Pregabalin and other medications known to manage epilepsy can put a user at risk of experiencing suicidal behavior. On top of these suicidal tendencies, Lyrica can also worsen depression in people diagnosed with this condition, exhibited by unusual changes in their day-to-day mood. Considering these pregabalin side effects, it is imperative to closely monitor your mood while you are on this drug and let a doctor know if you develop any new issues or worsening of symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Addiction and Overdose
Pregabalin can often lead to a strong sedative effect in users, which many people enjoy. Consequently, they may start misusing it in a way other than prescribed, for example, by dissolving the tablets in water and injecting the solution into veins. If such misuse continues, such people may end up experiencing addiction. Pregabalin addiction can trigger widespread negative effects on life, including employment, finances, and relationships. Moreover, continued abuse may also put people at risk of overdosing. Following are some common symptoms of pregabalin overdose:
- Increased restlessness
- Heart issues
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased consciousness
If you cannot use pregabalin as prescribed or feel like misusing it, talk to a doctor who may change the medication and prescribe a safer alternative.
Is It Possible to Avoid Pregabalin Side Effects?
To dodge most of the pregabalin side effects and minimize others, remember the warnings mentioned below and act accordingly:
- Avoid using pregabalin if you have experienced an allergic reaction to it in the past
- Do not use it if you are under the age of 18 years without asking a doctor first.
- Talk to your loved ones about the potential side effects of pregabalin and ask them to keep an eye on your daily mood and other aspects. The loved ones can get in touch with a doctor if they report any suicidal tendencies building up.
- Attend your follow-up appointments with the doctor regularly and follow the instructions they provide regarding pregabalin use.
- If you are pregnant, stay in touch with a doctor and do not deviate from the prescribed dose. Experiencing seizures during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous and may prove fatal for the growing baby. So avoid changing the dose or stopping the medicine on your own.
- If you become pregnant while using pregabalin, immediately contact a doctor without stopping the medication. A doctor may suggest adding your name to the pregnancy registry list so that a healthcare expert can monitor pregabalin side effects on your baby.
- If you plan to breastfeed your baby while taking pregabalin, always ask a doctor for advice.
- Remember that pregabalin may interfere with the sperm count and alter fertility in male users. Animal studies have further confirmed that its use may lead to birth defects in newborns. While there are not enough studies to confirm these effects in humans, discussing your case with a doctor is always a safe option.
If this is your first time getting a prescription for pregabalin, ensure that you give a proper history to the prescribing doctor. Additionally, clarify all past and present medical issues so that a doctor can analyze your risk and safety of using this medication. Following are some medical issues to mention in particular:
- Lung issues, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- A severe allergic reaction in the past (angioedema)
- Heart issues (for example, congestive heart failure)
- A bleeding disorder (critically low levels of platelets)
- Depression or mood disorder
- Any pre-existing addiction
- History of suicidal thoughts
- Kidney disease (especially for patients on dialysis)
Dodging Pregabalin Side Effects: Tips to Remember
To minimize the risk of side effects while taking pregabalin, follow the tips mentioned below:
- Take pregabalin exactly as prescribed. Closely go through the instructions label and stick to it.
- Swallow the tablet whole and avoid chewing, crushing, or breaking it.
- Be regular while taking the medication, and do not skip any dosage.
- If you are using pregabalin in a liquid form, measure the exact dose using the syringe that comes with the pack. If you lose it, get one from a pharmacy.
- Store pregabalin at room temperature and protect it from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat otherwise, its formulation may change.
- Do not stop using pregabalin on your own, even if you feel better. Doing so may cause a relapse and bring back all symptoms, including seizures. Always involve a doctor if you plan to stop it, and allow them to make a safe tapering plan.
- If you feel like pregabalin is not benefitting you or is making your symptoms worse, talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
- Always keep a badge or card with you to let others know that you are on pregabalin for seizure control. The card can prove handy in emergency situations.
When to Contact a Professional
Almost all medications cause side effects to some degree. In the case of pregabalin, most side effects are mild and expected to resolve independently after some time. However, some users may experience severe side effects that interfere with their daily lives. If you feel like your side effects are negatively affecting the way you live, it is best to get in touch with a doctor, as they can guide you about how to manage them. If the symptoms still remain unmanageable, a professional can switch you to an alternative for more effective management with minimal side effects.
While you wait for a doctor’s appointment, it may be worthwhile to conduct research on pregabalin on your own. However, if you decide to proceed with it, ensure that the information you seek is through legit, evidence-based websites. You may like to get more awareness on the following topics in particular:
- What is pregabalin and its forms
- Comparing pregabalin with other drugs for seizure control
- Awareness of different pregabalin dosages available
- Common interactions that may occur while using pregabalin with other prescription-based and over-the-counter drugs
Do pregabalin side effects vary based on the potency of the formulation I am using?
At present, pregabalin is available in different strengths, such as 75 mg, 50 mg, and 30 mg. People taking a stronger formulation are at a greater risk of side effects as they expose their bodies to a higher dose of the drug. However, remember that the relationship is not as simple as it seems, and many other personal factors can influence it.
What should I do if I miss a dose of pregabalin?
If you miss a dose of pregabalin as prescribed, try to take it as soon as you can. However, if you remember it too close to the next scheduled dose, it is better to skip it; otherwise, you may experience a doubling of the dose and intensified side effects.
How long will I continue to suffer from pregabalin side effects?
The duration of side effects due to pregabalin can vary from one user to another. In general, most people overcome sleepiness and dizziness within two weeks of using the medication. Other side effects may take a little more time to diminish. Consider talking to your doctor about possible timelines based on your profile and circumstances.
Does pregabalin make you sleepy?
Yes, pregabalin is very likely to make users dizzy and sleepy. Due to these side effects, experts advise against driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing anything that requires focus and precision while under the pregabalin effects. This is particularly true if you have just started taking the drug and are not sure how much it affects you.
Can Lyrica cause dry mouth?
Many people report experiencing a dry mouth while using Lyrica. The symptoms of a dry mouth may include feeling excessively thirsty, developing cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth, and a dry tongue.
Can Lyrica cause bowel problems?
Research indicates that many people on pregabalin or Lyrica report experiencing severe constipation.
Can Lyrica cause heart palpitations?
While some people report experiencing heart palpitations while using Lyrica, it is not a common side effect.
Can pregabalin cause depression?
Experts now believe that pregabalin use can lead to depression in people. It can also cause low mood in users and may exacerbate the symptoms of pre-existing anxiety.
What painkillers can I take with pregabalin without experiencing any side effects?
Taking ibuprofen, paracetamol, and aspirin can be safely taken to augment the overall pain control. However, be cautious not to combine pregabalin with medicines like co-codamol and codeine, as the combination may lead to excessive sleepiness and make a user prone to accidents.
What not to take with pregabalin?
Experts generally advise avoiding the following while using pregabalin:
- Sedatives and tranquilizers
- Medication for insomnia management
- Antidepressants and anxiolytic medications
- Prescription narcotics
- Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Muscle relaxants
Apart from the medication mentioned above, it is not wise to use alcohol with pregabalin.
Are there any pregabalin urinary side effects I should remember?
Pregabalin has been reported to increase the bladder activity, causing incontinence in some cases.