Lyrica is the brand name of a drug called pregabalin, an oral medication that is classified as an anti-seizure medication. It works by slowing impulses across the brain that are involved in seizures. Moreover, this medication affects specific chemicals involved in pain signals.
It is used to control epilepsy, a condition when one experiences repeated seizures. There are numerous types of seizures (partial seizures and generalized seizures), ranging from mild to severe. According to statistics, approximately 2.5 to 3 million Americans have epilepsy and an estimated 1% of people in the United States will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.
Epilepsy can be caused by many different conditions which affect an individual’s brain. Most of the time the actual cause is unknown. However, some causes include:
- central nervous system infection;
- head injury;
- traumatic brain injury;
- brain tumor;
This medication is also used to treat neuropathic pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles, that is caused by chicken pox), diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage caused by chronic diabetes and high blood sugar), and fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is described by fatigue and widespread pain in joints and muscles. Women are about 10 times more likely to suffer from this condition than men. Classic fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- sore all over;
- chronic widespread pain;
- irritable bowel syndrome;
- mental fog;
- mood disorders (anxiety disorder, depression);
- never feeling rested;
- sleep problems (insomnia);
- excessive episodes of pain in the neck and back.
Doctors today think fibromyalgia could be associated with infections, genetics, emotional or physical trauma, or a combination of all these. Moreover, some doctors believe that fibromyalgia may be caused by problems with the autonomic nervous or neuroendocrine systems.
For neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, the initial recommended dose is 150 to 600 mg per day. For seizures, the usual recommended dose is 150 to 600 mg per day. For fibromyalgia, the usual recommended dose is 300 to 450 mg per day.
For postherpetic neuralgia, the usual recommended dose is 50-100 mg that is taken three times per day or 75-150 mg two times per day. If pain relief is not sufficient, the dose can be increased to 300 mg per day. After 30 days of treatment, the dose may be increased to 200 mg taken three times per day.
For diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the initial recommended dose is 50 mg that is taken three times per day. After one week of treatment, the dosage may be increased to a maximum dose of 100 mg that is taken 3 times daily.
Note – this medication is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
Side Effects And Precautions Of Pregabalin
Common side effects may include:
- blurred vision;
- abnormal gait (ataxia);
- difficulty concentrating;
- fatigue (tiredness);
- weight gain;
- double vision (diplopia);
- edema (accumulation of fluid);
- dry mouth (xerostomia);
Rare side effects may include:
- muscle twitching;
- suicidal thoughts;
- muscle cramps;
- kidney stones;
- change in sensitivity to touch;
- urinary problems;
- increased heart rate;
- joint pain;
- muscle pain;
- excessive salivating.
To make sure this drug is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have ever had:
- a bleeding disorder;
- suicidal thoughts;
- low levels of platelets in the blood;
- kidney disease;
- a mood disorder;
- diabetes (unless you are taking this medication to treat diabetic neuropathy);
- heart problems, particularly congestive heart failure;
- angioedema (a severe allergic reaction);
- any type of drug addiction;
- an allergic reaction to any type of medicine.
There are no conclusive studies regarding the safe use of this medication by pregnant women. Therefore, if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant, talk with your healthcare provider before use. Also, this medication may pass into the mother’s milk, therefore, if you are breastfeeding a baby, do not take it.
Alcohol can cause sleepiness, and when mixed with this medication, it can considerably increase the sleepiness and drowsiness as well as the risk of side effects of taking this medication. Additionally, while taking this medicine, you should avoid any activity which requires you to stay alert, because it may cause varying levels of drowsiness and sleepiness, even when used without alcohol.
According to studies, high doses of this medication did not show toxic effects. Nevertheless, it is essential to take it precisely as your healthcare provider prescribed.
High & Abuse
There are some anecdotal reports of people using this medication to experience an elevated mood or “get high.”
This medication may negatively interact with the following drugs:
- heart drugs, like – enalapril (Vasotec, Lexxel) or captopril (Capozide, Capoten);
- sleeping pills;
- narcotic pain drugs, like – oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin);
- some drugs for diabetes, including – rosiglitazone (Avandia, Avandamet) or pioglitazone (Duetact, Actos);
- medication for seizures;
- drugs for mental illness;
- drugs used to treat anxiety, like – lorazepam (Ativan);
Is Lyrica Addictive?
Unlike other, more addictive prescription medications, Lyrica is not likely to cause a physical dependence or a chemical addiction. However, it is classified as a Schedule V controlled substance, and some people may experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting this drug abruptly.
Therefore, to prevent withdrawal symptoms, do not stop this medication suddenly. Ask your healthcare professional how to safely stop using this drug.
It is recommended to store this medication at 25°C (77°F).
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References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110876/ https://www.pfizermedicalinformation.com/en-us/lyrica/clinical-studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881924/ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1614292