Lyrica Side Effects
Starting a new medicine likely sparks a few questions, which is why research is so important, even when it comes to pain medication like Lyrica. We like to make sure that you have all of the facts in hand so you can determine if the prescription is a good fit for your medical needs.
Lyrica, also known by its generic name pregabalin, is a prescription medication that falls into the GABA analogue drug class.
It’s used to treat multiple conditions, including those that cause nerve pain and sometimes, it’s used in combination with other drugs to help manage epilepsy.
The medication comes in several dosage strengths ranging from 25 mg to 300 mg capsules and extended-release tablets. It’s also available in an oral solution.
The method and dosage patients receive typically relies upon their condition. While it’s used to treat epilepsy in children, it’s administered at very small doses.
Its safety and efficacy has been tested through numerous studies, with Lyrica being more effective than placebos in double-blind, controlled studies.
How Does Lyrica Work?
While it’s unknown exactly how Lyrica works, it’s assumed that it helps to reduce the excessive electrical signals that are emitted from damaged nerves.
By calming the nerves, it reduces the amount of pain a patient feels, giving them a sense of comfort that they may be unable to find with other medications.
How Long Does It Take For Lyrica to Work?
Lyrica is not a quick-acting drug, that is it does not work immediately. During the study phase, many patients experienced some sort of relief within a week while others took a bit longer.
What Are Some Common Lyrica Side Effects?
Like most medications, there are some side effects associated with the use of Lyrica. The most common ones include, but are not limited to:
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Swollen or fluid retention in the legs and arms, hands and feet
- Difficulty remaining focused
While these reactions can be annoying, they’re not typically life-threatening and often resolve as your body gets used to the medication.
Are the Side Effects Immediate?
Everybody’s body is unique and reacts differently, so there is no one answer to determine if the side effects are immediate. For some people, they are, but for others it’s not uncommon to experience these adverse reactions several weeks after starting Lyrica.
In fact, there are people who never experience any side effects.
It’s important to keep your physician informed of any side effects that may crop up, especially if they come on when your dosage is altered. Your doctor will monitor you and recommend different medications if you react badly to Lyrica.
Rare Lyrica Side Effects
There are a small number of serious side effects that are important to tell your doctor about right away. They commonly present in people who are taking Lyrica along with anticonvulsants to help manage mood and seizure disorders. These include:
- Onset or increased depression
- Mood changes that are out of the ordinary
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
There are other rare adverse reactions to keep in mind as well, including:
- Chest pain
- Low blood sugar
All of these warrant a call to your doctor, but don’t stop the medication abruptly until you speak with your physician.
More Serious Lyrica Side Effects
In addition to the common side effects, there are more serious reactions that warrant an immediate call to your physician. These include:
- Muscle tenderness, pain or weakness
- Signs of problems with your kidneys
- Increased or decreased urination
- Blurred vision
- Bruising or bleeding that’s unusual
- Water retention that leads to a puffy face
In addition, patients with diabetes should be sure to let their doctors know if they end up with any new sores or develop other skin problems, as they could be problematic and a gateway for infection.
Do Lyrica Side Effects Go Away?
For many people, yes, the side effects do go away after the body acclimates to having Lyrica in its system.
However, for a small number of people, they don’t dissipate, and these patients often need to find other medications to try.
Is Lyrica Highly Addictive?
While it’s not highly addictive, those who have a susceptibility to substance abuse may find themselves craving Lyrica.
One of the best ways to prevent dependency is to take it exactly as it’s prescribed.
However, because of its ability to cause psychedelic highs and a sense of euphoria, according to a study by the AACC, 1 in 5 people in rehab were found to be taking the drug without a prescription.
Sometimes, even with precautions, addiction does happen. If you notice that you’re relying on the drug more and more, speak with your doctor about switching to new meds.
However, it’s ill-advised to simply stop taking it. For this reason, your doctor may opt to taper you off the drug rather than stop it abruptly and cause withdrawal symptoms, which are much worse.
Are There Long-Term Side Effects or Harm Caused by Lyrica Use?
As with any medication, there is the potential for long-term side effects or harm when Lyrica is taken extensively.
However, clinical trials have shown that most of the side effects are short-term, and there’s no cause for worry in taking the medication for extended periods of time.
One of the potential long-term side effects of Lyrica use is weight gain. A clinical trial showed that there was a 7% weight gain in 9% of the trial participants.
While this number isn’t high, there may be cause for concern for those who are genetically predisposed to a higher BMI. This, of course, may also be a concern for those who are taking other medications tied to weight gain.
Lyrica’s Drug Identification Number
The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, assigns each approved drug with an identification number to regulate its use and distribution.
You can find Lyrica under several numbers including:
- NDA 021446
- NDA 021723
- NDA 021724
- NDA 022488
- NDA 209501
The applications are filed under two different pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and CP Pharmaceuticals.
Lyrica comes in a variety of dosages, depending on patient needs. The patient age and the condition it’s treating are heavily weighed when determining an appropriate prescription.
Adults and children both take the drug, though children take a much smaller dose than adults depending on their age. Lyrica isn’t recommended for children under the age of 4 and it’s mainly only prescribed to children for epilepsy.
For those who have diabetic nerve pain, doctors will likely start you off on 50 mg doses taken three times a day, to get you adjusted to the medication. If they need to increase it, you’ll likely never exceed 300 mg per day.
The dosages for fibromyalgia, nerve pain from spinal cord injury and postherpetic neuralgia are often higher, with a limit of 660 mg per day.
Capsules come in 25 mg to 300 mg dosages, and there’s also a 20mg/ML oral solution that patients can take. The 25 mg, 50 mg and 150 mg dosages are plain white capsules with the letters PGN on them with the dosage amount printed directly underneath.
The 75 mg, 225 mg and 300 mg dosages come in an orange and white capsule with the letters PGN and dosage printed on it. The 100 mg capsule is a deep orange while the 200 mg capsule is light orange, and both have the same initials with the appropriate dose printed.
There are extended-release tablets as well, for people with chronic pain who take them at a higher dosage. Otherwise, capsules and oral solution are the two main types of Lyrica prescribed.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
If you are currently pregnant or become pregnant before taking Lyrica, let your doctor know.
Because it crosses the placenta and has shown a connection to fetal abnormalities in animals, it could lead to birth defects.
As a whole, its safety is not well researched, so your doctor will err on the side of caution when possible. In some cases, you’ll remain on the prescription, but you may be added to a register to track how the medication affects pregnancy.
Lyrica may also be expressed in breastmilk, but there are no definitive studies that determine any risk to the infant. Simply let your doctor and pediatrician know if you’re breastfeeding and weigh the potential risks of the drug affecting the baby.
Is Lyrica Right for You?
Only you and your doctor can make the determination, as a team, as to whether or not Lyrica is right for you.
If it interacts with a medication you’re currently taking or you don’t like the way it makes you feel, it may warrant a different prescription.
Sometimes, the drug simply stops being enough for you and if this happens, it’s also a good idea to bring it up to your doctor as discussed further below.
When to Consult Your Doctor
There are certain times while taking Lyrica that it may be a good idea to call your physician.
If you notice any sudden changes in how you react to the medication, for example, this warrants a call to your doctor.
If the medication seems to stop working and your condition worsens, your doctor may want to up your dosage. If you’re already at the maximum dosage, you may need to try another medication if Lyrica loses its efficacy.
It’s very critical to note that you don’t just stop taking Lyrica, especially if you have been taking it for a while, without speaking to your doctor. This can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms.
Risks of Lyrica
In addition to its side effects, there are a few risks that come along with taking Lyrica.
Do Not Take Lyrica If:
- You operate heavy machinery, including driving a vehicle, at least until you know how the medication will affect you
- You consistently drink alcohol as the medication tends to react badly with it
- You do not have a prescription for the drug as it can lead to potential addiction and legal action
Lyrica Drug Interactions
There are a few drugs that interact with Lyrica and should be avoided while you’re taking it.
Any opioid medications, sleeping pills, anxiety and seizure medications as well as muscle relaxers you’re should be brought to your physician’s attention. Because they can make you drowsy and one of Lyrica’s side effects is drowsiness, it could be compounded.
Other drugs that your doctor needs to know about include any prescriptions that you’re taking for diabetes such as rosiglitazone or pioglitazone. ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril, ramipril, trandolapril and enalapril may interact as well.
To avoid any interactions or record any possible interactions that may not be noted at this time, let your doctor know about any other supplements that you might be taking.
It is highly recommended that patients taking Lyrica avoid all alcohol, as it can interact badly and potentially cause an overdose. The symptoms of an overdose typically include an elevated heart rate.
What Other Drugs and Treatments Are There?
If Lyrica and its generic equivalent, pregabalin, aren’t for you, there’s another drug called gabapentin that may work for similar conditions.
Like Lyrica, it’s prescribed for neuropathic pain and epileptic conditions.