For those suffering from symptoms of familial amyloid polyneuropathy — such as loss of nerve function in the hands, feet, arms, and legs — Neurontin (gabapentin) may be a commonly prescribed treatment. While caregivers must be aware of the side effects that gabapentin may produce in patients, they must also be mindful of interactions with other medications.
My mother-in-law recently went to the emergency room with a low heart rate and heavy breathing. After an overnight stay and a few tests, the doctors prescribed heart medications. She is currently home recovering but will return to the hospital for more tests.
Upon speaking with my mother-in-law after her release from the hospital, she let me know of her concerns about her newly prescribed medications interacting with gabapentin. It was a valid concern.
Some to watch
Ambien (zolpidem) may increase some of gabapentin’s side effects when combined. These side effects include dizziness, trouble concentrating, drowsiness, and confusion. Gabapentin users should avoid any activities requiring mental alertness such as driving and operating heavy machinery when also using Ambien.
Hydrocodone is a pain-relieving drug that has a moderate reaction when combined with gabapentin. Like Ambien, hydrocodone’s side effects when interacting with gabapentin include drowsiness, dizziness, and trouble concentrating. Caregivers must be aware of hydrocodone or any painkiller’s interactions with gabapentin when their patients are taking both medications.
Caregivers must monitor the central nervous systems and respiratory systems of patients prescribed gabapentin and oxycodone. Patients must avoid activities involving mental focus, such as driving and operating heavy machinery. Caregivers must be cautious when administering dosages of oxycodone to patients already taking gabapentin and should also monitor their patients for respiratory depression.
Caregivers with patients taking gabapentin must be extremely cautious about Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). The painkiller is a potent analgesic that is longer lasting than morphine. It reacts with gabapentin in a potentially lethal way, leading to central nervous system depression. Other serious interaction effects may include respiratory distress, coma, and death.
Patients using gabapentin must also be careful when drinking alcohol. When combined with gabapentin, alcohol may increase the medication’s effect on the nervous system, causing increased dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and impaired judgment.
Many medications have potentially serious side effects, especially when combined with other treatments. It is important for caregivers to be aware of these interactions.
When a doctor prescribes an unfamiliar medicine for a patient suffering from peripheral neuropathy symptoms, the patient and caregiver should ask questions about how it may interact with existing treatments. This is critical for the patient’s health.
Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.