Pregabalin and gabapentin are both anticonvulsants used to treat epileptic seizures and a variety of other medical conditions. As medications that are very similar, they do have their differences. The main difference is that pregabalin is the more potent of the two medications. Other differences between the two medications are that the body absorbs pregabalin at a faster rate, and pregabalin also causes less dose-dependent side effects than gabapentin.
While both medications are used to treat epileptic seizures, they can be used to treat other conditions as well. Pregabalin, for example, is also used to treat neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. In addition, gabapentin also treats postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) pan and restless legs syndrome (RLS). A patient’s medical condition, combined with the type of medication he or she takes, determines his or her treatment dosage.
Since pregabalin is more potent than gabapentin, it takes a smaller dose of pregabalin to equal the same level of potency in a dose of gabapentin. This means a patient would take a lesser dose of pregabalin as opposed to a bigger dose of gabapentin. The absorption properties of pregabalin also work to its advantage as it ensures a steadier intake of the medication. Pregabalin and gabapentin both cause side effects but gabapentin tends to cause more side effects that depend on the dosage of the medication. Of course, side effects also depend on a patient’s specific condition as well.
The similarity between the makeup of pregabalin and gabapentin means that the side effects of both medications are sometimes the same, although they might differ as well. Side effects of pregabalin, some of which might also pertain to gabapentin, include balance problems, dry mouth and tremors. More serious side effects include abnormal bleeding or bruising, muscle pain and vision problems. Blurred vision, dizziness and headache are examples of side effects of gabapentin. Serious side effects, on the other hand, include abnormal urination, increased seizures and rapid eye movement.
Most notably for children, pregabalin and gabapentin can cause changes in behavior, such as increased aggressiveness. In addition, children might also experience concentration or memory problems. For all patients, pregabalin and gabapentin might also cause suicidal thoughts. Whichever side effects a patient experiences, he or she should not stop taking the medication before talking to a doctor. Usually, the patient will have to gradually stop taking the medication so that he or she can reduce the chances of suffering withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, increased seizures and trouble sleeping.