Pregabalin

About pregabalin

Pregabalin is used to treat epilepsy and anxiety.

It's also taken to treat nerve pain. Nerve pain can be caused by different conditions including diabetes and shingles, or an injury.

Pregabalin works in different ways:

Pregabalin is only available on prescription. It comes as capsules, tablets, or a liquid that you swallow.

Key facts

Who can and cannot take pregabalin

Pregabalin is only suitable for adults. It might not be suitable for people older than 65. Do not give it to children under 18.

Pregabalin is not suitable for some people. To make sure it's safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

How and when to take pregabalin

Dosage

Pregabalin is a prescription medicine. It's important to take it as instructed by your doctor.

The usual dose of pregabalin is between 150mg and 600mg a day, split into 2 or 3 separate doses.

If you are taking pregabalin as a liquid, 2.5ml is usually the same as taking a single 50mg capsule. Always check the label.

How to take it

You can take pregabalin with or without food, but it's best to take it in the same way each day. Try to space your doses evenly through the day.

Swallow pregabalin tablets or capsules whole with a drink of water or juice. Do not chew them.

If you are taking pregabalin as a liquid, it will come with a syringe or spoon to measure your dose. If you do not have a measuring spoon or syringe, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount.

How long to take it for

If you have epilepsy, it's likely that once your condition is under control you will continue to take pregabalin for many years.

If you're taking pregabalin for nerve pain or anxiety it's likely that once your symptoms have gone you will continue to take it for several months to stop them coming back.

Changes to your dose

To prevent side effects, your doctor will prescribe a low dose to start with and then increase it over a few days.

Once you find a dose that suits you, it will usually then stay the same.

If you forget to take it

If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it's within 2 hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.

Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.

If you have epilepsy, it's important to take this medicine regularly. Missing doses may trigger a seizure.

If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

If you take too much

Taking too much pregabalin may cause unpleasant side effects.

Contact 111 for advice now if:

  • you take more than your prescribed dose of pregabalin

Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111

Go to A&E now if:

You take more than your prescribed dose of pregabalin and you:

  • feel sleepy
  • feel confused or agitated
  • have a seizure
  • pass out

If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.

Take the pregabalin packet or leaflet inside it plus any remaining medicine with you.

Side effects

Common side effects

Like all medicines, pregabalin can cause side effects although not everyone gets them.

These common side effects may happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They are usually mild and go away by themselves.

Keep taking the medicine but tell your doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

If you have diabetes, pregabalin can upset your blood sugar control. Monitor your blood sugar more often for the first few weeks of treatment with pregabalin and adjust your diabetes treatment if you need to. Talk to your doctor or diabetes nurse if you want more advice on what to do.

Serious side effects

Very few people taking pregabalin have serious problems. Call a doctor or contact 111 straight away if you get:

Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to pregabalin.

These are not all the side effects of pregabalin. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

How to cope with side effects of pregabalin

What to do about:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Pregabalin and pregnancy

Taking pregabalin during pregnancy may slightly increase the chance of birth defects in the baby.

You'll usually only be advised to take it if your doctor thinks the benefits of the medicine outweigh the risks.

If you take pregabalin and become pregnant, do not stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor first. If you take pregabalin for epilepsy, it is particularly important that this is well treated during pregnancy, as seizures can harm you and your baby.

It's recommended to use effective contraception while taking pregabalin. If you plan to get pregnant, talk to your doctor first, as they may want to review your treatment.

If you're trying to get pregnant or have become pregnant while taking pregabalin, it is recommended to take high dose folic acid (5mg a day). You can get this from your doctor or midwife.

Ideally, you'll take high dose folic acid for 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Do not worry if you have not taken it before you get pregnant, but start taking it as soon as possible once you know that you are pregnant. It helps your baby to grow normally.

If you take pregabalin around the time of giving birth, your baby may need extra monitoring for a few days after they're born. This is because they may have pregabalin withdrawal symptoms.

Pregabalin and breastfeeding

If your doctor or health visitor says your baby is healthy, you can take pregabalin while breastfeeding. It's important to keep taking pregabalin to keep you well.

Pregabalin passes into breast milk in small amounts, and it's unlikely to cause side effects in your baby.

If you're breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, as other medicines we know more about might be better while you're breastfeeding, but they will help you decide.

If your baby is not feeding as well as usual, or seems unusually sleepy, or if you have any other concerns about your baby, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, health visitor or midwife.

For more information about how pregabalin can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, visit the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.

Cautions with other medicines

Mixing pregabalin with herbal remedies and supplements

Pregabalin can usually be taken safely with other medicines.

For safety, tell your doctor if you're taking any of these medicines before you start taking pregabalin:

There are no known problems with taking herbal remedies and supplements with pregabalin.

However there's not enough information to say that complementary medicines and herbal remedies are always safe to take with pregabalin. They're not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines.

Common questions about pregabalin

How does pregabalin work? Is it safe to take it for a long time? Do I need to take the same brand of pregabalin? Can I get addicted to pregabalin? What happens when I stop taking pregabalin? Can I get epilepsy medicines for free? Are there similar medicines to pregabalin? Is pregabalin a controlled medicine? How do I pick up a prescription for a controlled medicine? Will it affect my contraception? Will it affect my fertility? Can I drive or ride a bike? Can I drink alcohol with it? Will recreational drugs affect it?