Read the information leaflet from inside the pack.
You need to take pregabalin regularly. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Pregabalin can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy. Make sure your reactions are normal before you drive, or use tools or machines.
|Type of medicine||An anti-epileptic medicine|
|Used for||Epilepsy; neuropathic pain; general anxiety disorder|
|Available as||Capsules and oral liquid medicine|
Pregabalin belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-epileptic medicines, although it is prescribed for the treatment of several different conditions. You may have been prescribed it for the treatment of partial seizures, which is a type of epilepsy. A seizure is a short episode of symptoms which is caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. With a partial seizure, the burst of electrical activity stays in one part of the brain. Therefore, you tend to have localised or 'focal' symptoms. Pregabalin works by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It is taken alongside other medicines for epilepsy.
Pregabalin is also prescribed to treat certain types of long-lasting pain caused by damage to nerves. This type of pain, called neuropathic pain, can be caused by a number of different conditions, including diabetes (where it is called diabetic neuropathy) and shingles (where it is called postherpetic neuralgia).
Pregabalin can also be helpful in treating the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), particularly if other medicines which are more often prescribed for people with this condition are not suitable. GAD is a long-term condition where anxiety is a major symptom.
Before taking pregabalin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking pregabalin it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are under 18 years of age.
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have a heart condition.
- If you have ever had drug or alcohol dependence problems.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take pregabalin
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about pregabalin and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take pregabalin exactly as your doctor tells you to. The dose varies from one person to another so it is important that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully. There are several strengths of pregabalin capsules available, so it is always worth checking the strength of the capsules each time you get a new prescription to make sure they are what you are expecting.
- You will be advised to take a low dose when you first start taking pregabalin, and then to increase the dose over the first few weeks. This is to allow your body to get used to the new medicine. Most people take two or three doses a day once they are on a regular maintenance dose. Your doctor will explain all this to you, and the dosing directions will be printed on the label of the pack. If you are still unsure about how to take your doses, ask your pharmacist to advise you.
- You can take pregabalin before or after food. Swallow the capsules with a drink of water. If you have been supplied with oral liquid medicine, see the instructions below for using the oral dosing syringe.
- Once you are taking a regular amount of pregabalin, try to take your doses at the same times each day. This will help you avoid missing doses.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember. Try to take the correct number of doses each day, but do not take two doses at the same time.
Instructions for using the dosing syringe with Lyrica® Oral Solution
- Remove the bottle cap, and push the syringe adaptor into the top of the open bottle.
- Insert the syringe into the adapter.
- Turn the bottle (with the syringe connected to it) upside down.
- Gently pull out the plunger of the syringe so that the solution fills the syringe to the mark which corresponds to your dose. Make sure any air bubbles are removed.
- Turn the bottle the correct way up again, and remove the syringe from the bottle.
- Put the tip of the syringe into your mouth, and gently push the plunger so that the liquid is released into your mouth.
- Replace the bottle cap (leaving the adapter in the bottle). Wash the syringe with water after each use.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- A small number of people have developed mood changes or thoughts about suicide whilst being treated with anti-epileptics. If this happens to you, you must tell your doctor about it straightaway.
- You must avoid getting pregnant while you are taking pregabalin, so make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you. If you want to have a family, make sure that you discuss this with your doctor before you become pregnant. This is so that you can be given advice about your treatment from a specialist. If you become pregnant while you are taking pregabalin, you must tell your doctor straightaway.
- When you first start a new treatment for epilepsy there may be a change in the number or type of seizures you experience. Your doctor will advise you about this.
- People with epilepsy must stop driving. Your doctor will advise you about when it may be possible for you to start driving again. This will usually be after a year free of seizures.
- You must take pregabalin regularly every day. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems which will make you feel unwell. If it becomes necessary for the treatment to stop, your doctor will ask you to reduce your dose over a period of at least a week.
Can pregabalin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with pregabalin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common pregabalin side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy, or sleepy; blurred or double vision||Do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Headache, other aches and pains||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Feeling or being sick, wind||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy food|
|Constipation||Eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Increased appetite and weight, mood changes, nose or throat infections, difficulties sleeping, reduced sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, feeling unsteady or shaky, loss of concentration, swollen feet or ankles||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice|
Important: pregabalin has been associated with allergic-type symptoms in a few people. If you experience any difficulty breathing, or notice any swelling of your face, mouth, tongue or throat, you must contact your doctor for advice straightaway.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store pregabalin
- Keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty, so the doctor knows what has been taken.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Lyrica® Capsules; Pfizer Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2014.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Lyrica® 20 mg/ml oral solution; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2014.
- British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson