Lyrica side effects and how to avoid them
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Lyrica is a brand-name FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved medication manufactured by Pfizer Inc. It is classed as an anti-epileptic drug (anticonvulsant) and neuropathic pain agent and is used for the treatment of nerve pain as well as epilepsy. While Lyrica is generally well tolerated, there are some potential side effects that people should be aware of. The most common side effects of Lyrica include nausea and headaches. Less common but more serious side effects can include an increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Learn more about the side effects of Lyrica and what you can do to avoid them.
What is Lyrica?
Lyrica is approved by the FDA to treat:
- Epilepsy that causes partial-onset seizures (Lyrica is usually used alongside other anti-epilepsy treatments)
- Fibromyalgia – widespread chronic pain
- Neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by a spinal cord injury
- Neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN)
- Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) caused by shingles
Lyrica is not recommended for the management of fibromyalgia or as adjunctive therapy for adult patients with partial-onset seizures. Lyrica contains pregabalin as the active ingredient. Pregabalin is chemically and structurally similar to gabapentin, with antiepileptic, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties.
Lyrica is available in capsule form, in the following doses: 25mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 225 mg, and 300 mg, and in oral solution form, in the following doses: 20 mg/ mL.
Your recommended and maximum daily dosage will be based on the condition you are being treated for. If you forget to take a dose of Lyrica, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the scheduled time.
Read the full prescribing information and medication guide for the full drug information, and always speak with a healthcare professional for medical advice about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.
Lyrica side effects
The most common side effects of Lyrica include:
- Blurred vision, dry mouth, and weight gain
More serious side effects of pregabalin, include:
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Muscle pain, tenderness, weakness, swelling of hands, ankles, or feet
- Angioedema – may be associated with life-threatening respiratory compromise requiring emergency treatment
- Serious allergic reactions such as hives, trouble breathing, fast or slow, shallow breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, or throat
- Worsening symptoms of suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Peripheral edema
- Dizziness and somnolence
- Increased seizure frequency may occur in patients with seizure disorders if treatment is rapidly discontinued
If you experience any of these serious side effects, stop taking Lyrica and seek medical attention immediately. You are encouraged to report the negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Does Lyrica have sexual side effects?
Lyrica can cause some sexual side effects. These include both a reduced and an increased interest in sex, not being able to get or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction), delayed ejaculation, and an inability to achieve climax.
These sexual side effects aren’t experienced by the majority of people who take Lyrica, but you could get one or more of them. Talk to your physician if you’re worried about sexual side effects and if you experience them while taking Lyrica.
Does Lyrica cause weight gain?
One side effect of Lyrica is that it can cause weight gain in some people who take it. Most people won’t gain weight, though, as this side effect happens in around one in 10 of those who take Lyrica. Talk to your physician if you’re concerned about weight gain.
Can pregabalin damage your heart?
Patients prescribed Lyrica for diabetic neuropathy experience an increased risk for myocardial infarction, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, and pulmonary embolism.
Lyrica drug interactions
Lyrica can interact with other medications, including:
- Other treatments that may also cause drowsiness, sedation, or breathing problems – opioids, or cough relievers such as codeine, hydrocodone, alcohol, marijuana (cannabis)
- Antidepressants, drugs for sleep or anxiety – alprazolam, lorazepam, and zolpidem
- Muscle relaxants – carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine
- Antihistamines – cetirizine, diphenhydramine
Before taking Lyrica, be sure to tell your doctor about all of the medications you are taking to ensure they are safe to take at the same time.
How does Lyrica affect the elderly?
Elderly patients over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of side effects such as dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, and kidney problems.
Is Lyrica an opioid?
Lyrica is not an opioid or a narcotic. Lyrica can become habit-forming and is a Schedule V drug but has less potential to do so than most pain medicines, and this is unlikely if you use it as prescribed. Talk to your physician if you’re concerned about withdrawal symptoms or Lyrica becoming habit-forming.
Is pregabalin an effective painkiller?
Oral pregabalin plays an important role in pain relief in people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain after shingles or diabetes.
Lyrica warnings & precautions
Don’t take Lyrica if you:
- Are allergic to the active ingredient pregabalin
- Have had an allergic reaction to any of the other ingredients in Lyrica
- Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed – Lyrica passes into breast milk
Talk to your doctor before using Lyrica if you:
- Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Lyrica
- Have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Have a mood disorder, depression, or suicidal thoughts
- Have heart problems (especially congestive heart failure)
- Have a bleeding disorder, or low levels of platelets in your blood
- Have kidney disease
- Have diabetes (unless you are taking pregabalin to treat diabetic neuropathy)
- Have a drug or alcohol addiction
You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, including Lyrica, to ensure it is safe.
How to avoid Lyrica side effects
The best way to avoid side effects is to take Lyrica as directed by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and do not take more or less than prescribed.
If you experience any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to recommend ways to help reduce or prevent some of the side effects.
1. Stick to the recommended dosage
Take your prescribed dose of Lyrica as recommended by your healthcare professional. Do not take more or less than prescribed.
2. Monitor your blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely while taking Lyrica. Check your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor and report any changes to your doctor immediately.
3. Drink plenty of fluids
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water or fluids every day to help prevent dehydration, which can make side effects worse.
4. Avoid alcohol
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Lyrica, as it can increase your risk of sleepiness, dizziness, and reduced concentration.
5. Don’t skip meals
Eating regular meals and snacks will help to prevent low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
6. Check your feet
If you have diabetes, check your feet for any cuts, sores, or redness regularly. Tell your caregiver if you experience any problems with your feet while taking Lyrica.
7. Know the signs and symptoms of Lyrica side effects
Signs and symptoms of side effects include blurred vision, dry mouth, and weight gain. If you experience these symptoms, speak to your doctor for medical advice.
8. Tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking
Be sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements, as they can interact with Lyrica.
9. Get regular medical checkups
It is important to get regular medical checkups and monitor your medical conditions. Your doctor will monitor your side effects and may adjust your dose of Lyrica as needed.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.