What is Gabapentin Side Effects ?

Gabapentin Side Effects

In 2014, the product information for gabapentin products was updated to warn about the risk of serious breathing problems (respiratory depression) when it is used with an opioid. While reviewing safety information given by the manufacturer for this change, Health Canada found cases of respiratory depression in patients treated with gabapentin alone. Therefore, this current safety review was carried out to assess the possibility of the same concerns in patients using gabapentin alone (when not taken with opioids) and to find out if more safety measures were needed.

Gabapentin Side Effects
Gabapentin Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

      1. Clumsiness or unsteadiness
      2. continuous, uncontrolled, back-and-forth, or rolling eye movements

More common in children

      1. Aggressive behavior or other behavior problems
      2. anxiety
      3. concentration problems and change in school performance
      4. crying
      5. depression
      6. false sense of well-being
      7. hyperactivity or increase in body movements
      8. rapidly changing moods
      9. reacting too quickly, too emotional, or overreacting
      10. restlessness
      11. suspiciousness or distrust

Less common

      1. Black, tarry stools
      2. chest pain
      3. chills
      4. cough
      5. depression, irritability, or other mood or mental changes
      6. fever
      7. loss of memory
      8. pain or swelling in the arms or legs
      9. painful or difficult urination
      10. sore throat
      11. sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
      12. swollen glands
      13. unusual bleeding or bruising
      14. unusual tiredness or weakness

Incidence not known

      1. Abdominal or stomach pain
      2. blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
      3. clay-colored stools
      4. coma
      5. confusion
      6. convulsions
      7. dark urine
      8. decreased urine output
      9. diarrhea
      10. difficult or troubled breathing
      11. dizziness
      12. fast or irregular heartbeat
      13. headache
      14. increased thirst
      15. irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
      16. itching or skin rash
      17. joint pain
      18. large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
      19. loss of appetite
      20. muscle ache or pain
      21. nausea
      22. pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
      23. red skin lesions, often with a purple center
      24. red, irritated eyes
      25. unpleasant breath odor
      26. vomiting of blood
      27. yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

      1. Blurred vision
      2. cold or flu-like symptoms
      3. delusions
      4. dementia
      5. hoarseness
      6. lack or loss of strength
      7. lower back or side pain
      8. swelling of the hands, feet, or lower legs
      9. trembling or shaking

Less common or rare

      1. Accidental injury
      2. appetite increased
      3. back pain
      4. bloated or full feeling
      5. body aches or pain
      6. burning, dry, or itching eyes
      7. change in vision
      8. change in walking and balance
      9. clumsiness or unsteadiness
      10. congestion
      11. constipation
      12. cough producing mucus
      13. decrease in sexual desire or ability
      14. dryness of the mouth or throat
      15. earache
      16. excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
      17. excessive tearing
      18. eye discharge
      19. feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheadedness
      20. feeling of warmth or heat
      21. flushed, dry skin
      22. flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
      23. frequent urination
      24. fruit-like breath odor
      25. impaired vision
      26. incoordination
      27. increased hunger
      28. increased sensitivity to pain
      29. increased sensitivity to touch
      30. increased thirst
      31. indigestion
      32. noise in the ears
      33. pain, redness, rash, swelling, or bleeding where the skin is rubbed off
      34. passing gas
      35. redness or swelling in the ear
      36. redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
      37. runny nose
      38. sneezing
      39. sweating
      40. tender, swollen glands in the neck
      41. tightness in the chest
      42. tingling in the hands and feet
      43. trouble sleeping
      44. trouble swallowing
      45. trouble thinking
      46. twitching
      47. unexplained weight loss
      48. voice changes
      49. vomiting
      50. weakness or loss of strength
      51. weight gain

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Important considerations for taking gabapentin

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes gabapentin oral capsule for you.


Gabapentin oral capsules can be taken with or without food. Taking them with food can help to reduce upset stomach.


  • Store gabapentin at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.


A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.


When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Be sure to carry with you the prescription-labeled box that your medication came in.
  • Do not put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Kidney function. Your doctor will monitor your kidney function during your treatment with this drug. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.

Mental health and behavioral problems. You and your doctor should watch for any changes in your behavior and mood. This drug can cause new mental health and behavior problems. It may also worsen problems you already have.


Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for gabapentin. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.