Does Gabapentin Cause Weight Gain?

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Gabapentin may cause weight gain, but it is a rare side effect. Gabapentin is used to treat epilepsy.

It’s also taken for nerve pain, which can be caused by different conditions, including diabetes and shingles. Nerve pain can also happen after an injury.

Gabapentin is used to treat epilepsy.

It’s also taken for nerve pain, which can be caused by different conditions, including diabetes and shingles. Nerve pain can also happen after an injury.

In epilepsy, it’s thought that gabapentin stops seizures by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

With nerve pain, it’s thought to block pain by affecting the pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spine.

Gabapentin is available on prescription. It comes as tablets, capsules and a liquid that you swallow.

Key facts

  • You’ll usually take gabapentin 3 times a day. You can take it with or without food.
  • Most people who take gabapentin do not get any side effects. But some people may feel sleepy, tired and dizzy. Common side effects are usually mild and go away by themselves.
  • It takes at least a few weeks for gabapentin to work.
  • Most people do not have to stay on the same brand of gabapentin as there’s very little difference between brands.
  • Some people can become addicted to gabapentin after taking it for a long time. When stopping gabapentin you’ll need to reduce your dose gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • If you have epilepsy, you are entitled to free prescriptions for all the medicines you take, not just your epilepsy ones. You can get an application form from your doctor’s surgery.

In epilepsy, it’s thought that gabapentin stops seizures by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

With nerve pain, it’s thought to block pain by affecting the pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spine.

Gabapentin is available on prescription. It comes as tablets, capsules and a liquid that you swallow.

Studies have shown that a small number of people taking gabapentin, a drug used to treat epilepsy and postherpetic neuralgia, experienced weight gain. People who do gain weight may gain about 5 pounds after 6 weeks of use.

    • In people with epilepsy, weight gain occurred in 3% of people older than 12 years of age who were taking gabapentin (compared to 2% of people taking the placebo). Weight gain was also seen at a similar rate in pediatric epilepsy patients who were 3 to 12 years old.
    • In people with postherpetic neuralgia, 2% of patients taking gabapentin experienced weight gain. No weight gain was found among people taking the placebo.

The cause of weight gain with gabapentin is likely due to increased appetite. You may be hungry more often. In some cases, weight gain may be due to fluid retention, another side effect of gabapentin. Another possible cause is not getting enough exercise if gabapentin is causing fatigue.

Some ways to avoid weight gain include:

    • Eating a healthy and balanced diet
    • Eating smaller portion sizes
    • Avoiding high-calorie snacks and desserts like chips, pastries and sweets
    • Eating low-calorie snacks like fruits and vegetables to manage hunger
    • Getting regular exercise

Swelling from fluid retention may be reduced by:

    • Sitting with your feet raised
    • Avoiding standing for long periods of time

If gabapentin is causing you to gain weight, do not stop taking this drug on your own. Stopping the drug suddenly can lead to serious problems, especially if you are taking gabapentin for seizures. Abruptly stopping a seizure medicine can cause seizures that won’t stop.

Weight gain is one of many possible side effects. The most common side effects with gabapentin include:

    • Clumsiness
    • Viral infection
    • Sleepiness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Speaking difficulties
    • Tremor
    • Swelling, usually involving the legs and feet
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Movements that are jerky
    • Coordination difficulties
    • Double vision
    • Unusual eye movement

Detail Side Effects of Gabapentin

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

    1. Clumsiness or unsteadiness
    2. continuous, uncontrolled, back-and-forth, or rolling eye movements

More common in children

    1. Aggressive behavior or other behavior problems
    2. anxiety
    3. concentration problems and change in school performance
    4. crying
    5. depression
    6. false sense of well-being
    7. hyperactivity or increase in body movements
    8. rapidly changing moods
    9. reacting too quickly, too emotional, or overreacting
    10. restlessness
    11. suspiciousness or distrust

Less common

    1. Black, tarry stools
    2. chest pain
    3. chills
    4. cough
    5. depression, irritability, or other mood or mental changes
    6. fever
    7. loss of memory
    8. pain or swelling in the arms or legs
    9. painful or difficult urination
    10. sore throat
    11. sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
    12. swollen glands
    13. unusual bleeding or bruising
    14. unusual tiredness or weakness

Incidence not known

      1. Abdominal or stomach pain
      2. blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
      3. clay-colored stools
      4. coma
      5. confusion
      6. convulsions
      7. dark urine
      8. decreased urine output
      9. diarrhea
      10. difficult or troubled breathing
      11. dizziness
      12. fast or irregular heartbeat
      13. headache
      14. increased thirst
      15. irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
      16. itching or skin rash
      17. joint pain
      18. large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
      19. loss of appetite
      20. muscle ache or pain
      21. nausea
      22. pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
      23. red skin lesions, often with a purple center
      24. red, irritated eyes
      25. unpleasant breath odor
      26. vomiting of blood
      27. yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  1. Blurred vision
  2. cold or flu-like symptoms
  3. delusions
  4. dementia
  5. hoarseness
  6. lack or loss of strength
  7. lower back or side pain
  8. swelling of the hands, feet, or lower legs
  9. trembling or shaking

Less common or rare

  1. Accidental injury
  2. appetite increased
  3. back pain
  4. bloated or full feeling
  5. body aches or pain
  6. burning, dry, or itching eyes
  7. change in vision
  8. change in walking and balance
  9. clumsiness or unsteadiness
  10. congestion
  11. constipation
  12. cough producing mucus
  13. decrease in sexual desire or ability
  14. dryness of the mouth or throat
  15. earache
  16. excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  17. excessive tearing
  18. eye discharge
  19. feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheadedness
  20. feeling of warmth or heat
  21. flushed, dry skin
  22. flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
  23. frequent urination
  24. fruit-like breath odor
  25. impaired vision
  26. incoordination
  27. increased hunger
  28. increased sensitivity to pain
  29. increased sensitivity to touch
  30. increased thirst
  31. indigestion
  32. noise in the ears
  33. pain, redness, rash, swelling, or bleeding where the skin is rubbed off
  34. passing gas
  35. redness or swelling in the ear
  36. redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
  37. runny nose
  38. sneezing
  39. sweating
  40. tender, swollen glands in the neck
  41. tightness in the chest
  42. tingling in the hands and feet
  43. trouble sleeping
  44. trouble swallowing
  45. trouble thinking
  46. twitching
  47. unexplained weight loss
  48. voice changes
  49. vomiting
  50. weakness or loss of strength
  51. weight gain

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.