What is Lyrica?
Lyrica is a medication prescribed to adults to treat epilepsy and certain forms of pain. It comes as a capsule to be swallowed, or as a liquid oral solution.
Lyrica contains the active ingredient pregabalin. This slows down signals in your brain that can cause epileptic seizures. It also helps reduce nerve pain by lessening the sensitivity of damaged nerves and reducing the signals they send through your body.
How does Lyrica work?
After you swallow a Lyrica capsule, it’s broken down by your digestive system and absorbed into your blood. It then passes into your nervous system, where the active ingredient pregabalin takes effect.
Pregabalin acts as a central nervous system depressant, reducing and slowing down the electrical signals that pass through your brain. It also slows the rate at which your nerve cells absorb calcium from your blood. This can make the cells less sensitive to pain and reduce the pain signals they send.
What is Lyrica used for?
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 industry
- Neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by diabetes
- Neuropathic pain (nerve pain) caused by the herpes zoster virus (shingles)
Lyrica for epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that can cause you to have seizures. Seizures are a sudden and uncontrolled disturbance in your brain’s electrical activity that affects your consciousness, behavior, and can make you convulse. A partial-onset seizure is a seizure caused by a disturbance of activity in one particular area of your brain.
Lyrica reduces the electrical brain activity that can trigger a partial-onset epileptic seizure. It’s usually prescribed when your current anti-epilepsy medication isn’t preventing seizures as effectively as you’d like. Lyrica is used alongside your current anti-epilepsy medication to better manage your seizures.
Lyrica for nerve pain
Nerve pain (neuropathic pain) is caused by damage to nerves due to injury, like spinal cord injuries, or disease, like diabetes or shingles (herpes zoster). It can cause feelings of coldness, burning, pins and needles, itching, numbness, stabbing pain, shooting pain, to severe pain. Symptoms can be long-lasting; they may often come and go over time.
You can also take Lyrica for fibromyalgia too, a more widespread form of chronic pain than neuropathic pain.
Lyrica helps with pain by reducing the excitability of nerve cells, limiting their reaction to pain and reducing the pain signals they transmit.
How to take Lyrica
Lyrica is taken orally, either as a capsule or an oral solution (a liquid in a bottle). Capsules should be swallowed whole, and they can be taken with water. Lyrica can be taken with or without food.
Your physician will tell you how much Lyrica to take and how often (your Lyrica dosage). You typically take Lyrica twice to three times a day and should always try to take it at the same time each day. Try to make it part of your daily routine. A typical Lyrica dose is between 150 mg to 600 mg each day.
If you forget to take your Lyrica medication, never take a double dose to make up for a missed one, as if you take more Lyrica than you’re supposed to, you risk having an overdose. Symptoms can include sleepiness, confusion, restlessness, and irritability. Seizures can also occur. Call your physician or go to the nearest hospital emergency unit right away.
Take your Lyrica packaging with you and tell them exactly how much you’ve taken.
Lyrica and alcohol
You should avoid drinking alcohol whilst taking Lyrica. Alcohol can make some side effects of Lyrica worse, like sleepiness, dizziness, and reduced concentration.
Lyrica side effects
The two most common side effects caused by Lyrica are dizziness and sleepiness. In clinical trials, dizziness occurred in around 30% of people who took Lyrica, and sleepiness in around 23%.
Other side effects, which were felt by around 10% of people who took Lyrica, include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Lack of attention
- Memory problems
- Blurred vision
- Sore throat
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Decreased sexual interest
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
In rarer cases, Lyrica can cause more serious side effects. These can include:
- Serious allergic reactions
- Cardiovascular problems, including high and low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and heart failure
- Reduction in brain function (encephalopathy)
- Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) and liver failure
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Kidney failure
- Muscle damage
- Loss of vision
- Thoughts of self-harm and suicide
You should seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Signs of a serious allergic reaction, like difficulties breathing or swallowing, itchiness and hives, lightheadedness, and heart palpitations
- Decreased urination (a possible sign of kidney failure)
- Changes in vision, like blurring or vision loss
- Thoughts of harming or killing yourself
- A convulsion
Your physician will assess your risk of side effects versus the benefits of taking Lyrica.
Lyrica 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 whilst taking Lyrica.
If you stop taking Lyrica suddenly, you can experience Lyrica withdrawal symptoms. These can include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, increased sweating, and anxiety. If you’re epileptic, you may have seizures more often. Talk to your physician if you want to stop taking Lyrica. They’ll likely advise you to reduce your dose over time before you stop taking it completely.
Lyrica isn’t suitable for everyone. You can’t take it if you are under 18 and you shouldn’t if you are allergic to pregabalin or any of the other ingredients found in Lyrica.
Talk to your physician before taking Lyrica if you are over 65 and are allergic to any sugars. It is especially important to consult them if you:
- Have a heart condition or a history of heart disease
- Have kidney problems or are on dialysis
- Have a bleeding problem or a low platelet count
- Have diabetes
- Have ever had angioedema (swelling of your face, mouth, tongue, lips, gums, neck, or throat)
- Have ever had mood problems, depression, have self-harmed, or had suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Have ever abused alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medications
There may be a risk that Lyrica can reduce fertility or cause birth defects, so you should consult with your physician if you:
- Plan to father a child
- Are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
Some Lyrica side effects, like dizziness and sleepiness, can impair your ability to drive or use machinery. It’s important that you don’t drive, use machinery, or engage in other dangerous activities until you’re confident you know how the medication affects you.
Lyrica can interact with other medications. This can change how it and the other medications work. Some side effects might become more likely.
Medications known to interact with Lyrica include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Diabetes medications including Avandia (rosiglitazone), Avandamet (contains rosiglitazone and metformin), and Actos (pioglitazone)
- Narcotic pain medicines (oxycodone)
- Medications for anxiety (lorazepam)
- Medications that make you feel sleepy
What is Lyrica used for?
Lyrica is taken to treat a form of epilepsy, nerve pain (neuropathic pain), and a condition called fibromyalgia.
How does Lyrica work for nerve pain?
Lyrica reduces the sensitivity of damaged nerves to pain and lessens the pain signals they send through your body.
How long does it take for Lyrica to work?
This varies by person, as it depends on your condition, your health, the dose taken, and how you react to the medication. You may feel a reduction in symptoms after one week, but you may have to wait longer.
How long does it take Lyrica to get out of your system?
This depends on how your body reacts to the medication and the dose you take. On average though, Lyrica stays in your system for around one and a half days.
Can I take Lyrica for sciatica?
Lyrica is not approved to treat sciatic pain in the US. Talk to your doctor if you want medication to treat sciatica.
Is Lyrica a narcotic?
Lyrica is not a narcotic or an opioid. Lyrica can become habit-forming 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 Lyrica becoming habit-forming.
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.
Does Lyrica cause hair loss?
Lyrica is not thought to cause hair loss. Hair loss was not a side effect found to be caused by Lyrica in clinical trials.
Is there a generic form of Lyrica?
In July 2019 the FDA approved several applications for pharmaceutical companies to make generic versions of Lyrica, called pregabalin. At the time of writing, these generic versions are not yet available to buy. Ask your doctor or your pharmacist.
How much does Lyrica cost?
Without insurance, Lyrica prices will vary depending on the dose and quantity, and where you buy it. As a guide, a pack of 30, 75 mg Lyrica capsules will cost around $300. You may be advised to take two or three capsules per day, so your monthly cost of Lyrica can be between $600 to $900.
With Prescription Care you may be able to get Lyrica for a flat fee of only $49 per month, through the Lyrica patient assistance program. Find out how we can help you access affordable Lyrica medication.