Around 28 percent of diabetics in the US suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Experts warn that around one half of patients with diabetics are likely to end up with peripheral nerve dysfunction or damage. Pregablin, commonly known by its brand name Lyrica is one among the different medications that are presently used for treating the condition. With a structure that is similar to inhibitory neurotransmitters, the medication is also used for treating other conditions including herpes zoster and seizures that are known as focal seizures. Here is a look at the side effects of Lyrica to help patients use the medication in the prescribed manner for desired outcomes.

Drug overview and side effects of Lyrica

Used for managing neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia and various other conditions including postherpetic neuralgia, Lyrica belongs to the category of anti-epileptic drugs or anti-convulsant medications. The medication is known to result in a certain amount of dependence among users, especially among patients who have abused substances earlier. While it is structurally similar to inhibitory neurotransmitters, it does not have a mechanism of action involving binding to GABBA receptors.

To understand the side effects of Lyrica it is necessary to understand the mechanism of action of the medication. As mentioned above, it does not bind to GABBA receptors nor does it have any impact on cyclooxygenase activity, dopamine receptors, or opiate receptors. Research suggests that the medication works by presynaptic binding with voltage gated calcium channels. As a result of this binding activity, the medication is known to have antiseizure properties. Specifically, the medication works by regulating the release of various neurotransmitters that are considered as excitatory in nature. For instance, Lyrica modulates glutamate, norepinephrine and gene related peptide. This helps in achieving the desired outcomes from the mechanism of action of the drug.

Commonly reported side effects of Lyrica

The side effects of Lyrica can be broadly classified as mild and serious side effects. The former is experienced relatively frequently, while the latter is experienced rarely. The commonly reported side effects include – sudden lack of muscle coordination, unusual dryness of the mouth, dizzy feeling, rapid loss of energy levels, inability to think lucidly, and difficulty in focussing on actions and loss of concentration. Similarly, individuals are also likely to experience abnormally high levels of saliva, an itching sensation, pain in the joints, and frequent constipation. Patients are also likely to experience pain in the back, numb feelings, sudden increase in appetite. There is a likelihood of patients experiencing abnormal and unexplained feelings of euphoria. Additionally, there is a possibility of individuals experiencing inflammation in the sinus, and sudden loss of memory. Injuries are another side effect that could affect individuals on the medication, apart from abnormal twitching of the muscles and pain in the abdomen. A section of patients are also likely to experience difficulty in achieving orgasm during sexual intercourse apart from general weakness.

Apart from the above side effects of Lyrica here is a look at other possible adverse reactions from the medication. Individuals are likely to experience a change in vision, accompanied with eye movements that are not voluntary (medically known as Nystagmus). Patients could be exposed to risk of developing bronchitis, while passing urine with blood. Males may find it difficult to achieve a proper erection, show lesser interest in indulging in sexual activities, in addition to experiencing pain during intercourse. Women may find their breasts growing in size in a manner that is unrelated to normal growth. Additionally, women may also suddenly experience pain during menstruation apart from sudden absence of menstrual cycles.

Other side effects that are possible include the development of nail disorders, inflammation of the skin, symptoms that are similar to flu and a sudden increase in muscle tone. Side effects of Lyrica include effects that are rare yet mild in nature – falling into a stupor and fever. Individuals are sometimes known to walk abnormally, and experience tremors in the muscles. Feelings of anxiousness or inadequacy are also associated with the medication. The urge to urinate may increase in frequency, while individuals may also experience frequent diarrhea.

Rare side effects of Lyrica that are serious in nature

Side effects of Lyrica include adverse effects that are rare and serious in nature, that require medical intervention. For instance, patients on Lyrica are likely to have a sudden decrease in blood platelet count, and end being easily susceptible to infections. Visible effects of serious side effects include water retention that results in a puffy face. Individuals are known to harbor suicidal tendencies, and exhibit behavior that is abnormal. Some of the additional rare side effects of Lyrica include low levels of blood sugar and conditions associated with low blood sugar. Various other side effects are relatively serious in nature and this includes, abnormal movement disorders, speech disorders and development of kidney stones. The possibility of patients experience a ringing sensation in the ears is high, and in some cases individuals are likely to have impaired functioning of the lungs. The long list of side effects of the drug include double vision, outbreak of blisters in the skin and hives, apart from wheezing.

Drug interactions of Lyrica that also need to be borne in mind

In addition to the side effects of Lyrica there are drug interactions that also need to be borne in mind while taking the medication. The medication is known to have adverse reactions when taken alongside other medications that have a sedative effect. Any medication with known sedative effect will cause increased sedative effects in Lyrica and individuals are therefore cautioned to inform the treating specialist about the use of other sedatives. The medication is also known to react with alcohol in a similar manner. It is therefore recommended that patients abstain from alcohol when on Lyrica.

Management of overdose

In addition to being aware about the side effects of Lyrica it is also important to know more about managing overdosage. It is highly likely that individuals may end up taking more than recommended dosages and it is essential to know how to effectively handle the situation. There are no antidotes at present to tackle overdosage from Lyrica. Patients are hence advised to receive supportive care to flush out the Lyrica that is yet unabsorbed. Additionally, haemodialysis may be performed when severe toxicity is reported or observed. High serum levels of the drug may require suitable methods for elimination of the medication.

Recommended dosage of Lyrica for patients

In the context of overdose, it is important be aware of the recommended dosage levels of the drug. The ideal dosage of the drug depends on various factors including the age and the weight of the patient. Adults who weigh more than 30 kgs are recommended an initial dose of 150 mg per day with the maximum dosage capped at 600 mg per day. The medication is typically divided into dosages that are taken twice or thrice a day. In the case of children weighing more than 30 kgs, the recommended initial dose is 2.5 mg per day with the maximum dose capped at 10 mg per day. General dosage instructions apply to all categories of patients – where the actual dosage is typically taken twice or thrice a day.

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