Pregabalin is used to treat epilepsy, anxiety and nerve pain caused by illnesses, including diabetes and shingles.
Pregabalin is only available on prescription.
Pregabalin is also known by the brand names Lyrica, Brieka and Mypreg.
Uses of pregabalin
Pregabalin works in different ways:
- in epilepsy it stops seizures by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain
- with nerve pain it blocks pain by interfering with pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spine
- in anxiety it stops your brain from releasing the chemicals that make you feel anxious
If your GP prescribes pregabalin for epilepsy, they will usually tell you to take it alongside your current anti-epileptic treatment. Pregabalin is not intended to be used alone.
If you take too much pregabalin
If you take too much pregabalin you may:
- feel sleepy
- feel confused or agitated
- have a seizure
- pass out
Immediate action required: Call a GP or go to an emergency department (ED) immediately if:
- you take too much pregabalin
Do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call 999 or 112 for an ambulance.
Take the pregabalin packet or the leaflet with you, as well as any remaining medicine.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from taking pregabalin are not common.
Tell your GP if you have a history of heart disease. Some patients with heart conditions have reported heart problems after taking pregabalin.
Urgent advice: Call your GP immediately if you have:
- thoughts of harming or killing yourself
- difficulties breathing
- blurring, loss of vision or other changes in eyesight
- severe dizziness or you pass out
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real)
- problems going to the toilet, including blood in your pee, needing to pee more often, pain when peeing or constipation
Serious allergic reaction
A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to pregabalin is rare.
Urgent advice: Call your GP immediately if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
Check if you can take pregabalin
Pregabalin is only for adults. It is not suitable for some people.
Do not give it to children under the age of 18.
Non-urgent advice: Check with a GP before taking pregabalin if you:
- had an allergic reaction to any medicine in the past
- have ever abused or been addicted to a medicine
- have a history of alcoholism
- have a history of heart disease
- have a history of any serious medical conditions, including liver or kidney disease
- are trying to get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding
- take other medicines including medicines you buy from a pharmacy, herbal remedies or supplements
Pregabalin does not stop any oral contraception working.
Talk to your GP or pharmacist if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or trying to get pregnant before taking pregabalin.
Pregabalin should not be taken during pregnancy, unless your GP advises it.
Your GP will decide if the benefits of pregabalin outweigh the risks. If you have epilepsy, seizures can harm you and your unborn baby.
Do not stop taking pregabalin without talking to your GP first.
Get enough folic acid if you’re taking pregabalin
Take more folic acid if you’re taking pregabalin and are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Check with your GP how much folic acid you need.
Newborn babies and pregabalin
Your baby might need extra monitoring for a few days after they're born if you take pregabalin around the time of giving birth.
This is because your baby might have pregabalin withdrawal symptoms.
Breastfeeding and pregabalin
Talk to your GP or pharmacist if you are breastfeeding.
Pregabalin should not be taken while breastfeeding, unless your GP tell you to.
Tiny amounts of pregabalin can get into breast milk. But it's not clear if it can harm the baby.
Other medicines might be better if you're breastfeeding.
When you start taking pregabalin
Your GP will prescribe a low dose to start with and then increase it over a few days. This is to prevent side effects.
When you find a dose that suits you, it will usually stay the same.
It takes at least a few weeks for pregabalin to work.
You’ll usually take pregabalin:
- for many years if you have epilepsy, once your illness is under control
- for several months if you have nerve pain or anxiety, including after your symptoms have gone to stop them coming back
You may feel sleepy or dizzy after taking pregabalin. This may increase the chance of an accidental fall.
It's best to stop drinking alcohol while taking pregabalin.
How and when to take pregabalin
Take pregabalin as instructed by your GP.
Pregabalin is usually taken 2 or 3 times a day.
You can take pregabalin with or without food, but you should take it the same way each day. Try to space your doses evenly throughout the day.
If you forget to take pregabalin
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is time for your next dose.
If you only remember within 2 hours of the next dose, leave out the missed dose. Take your next dose as normal.
Do not take 2 doses at the same time. Do not take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
It's important to take pregabalin regularly, at the same time each day.
Missing doses may trigger a seizure if you have epilepsy.
Set an alarm as a reminder if you often forget doses.
If you want to stop taking pregabalin
Do not stop taking pregabalin without talking to your GP, even if you feel fine.
Stopping pregabalin suddenly can cause serious problems, including:
- seizures that will not stop if you have epilepsy
- severe withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, pain and feeling sick
See the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine for a full list of possible withdrawal symptoms.
Find your patient information leaflet
Talk to your GP about controlling withdrawal seizures and other symptoms by gradually reducing the dose of pregabalin.
Taking pregabalin with other medicines
Tell your GP or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines before taking pregabalin.
Other medicines may interfere with how pregabalin works and increase the chance of side effects.
Pregabalin can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them.
The most common side effects are:
- feeling sleepy
Keep taking your pregabalin even if you get side effects. Tell a GP or pharmacist if the side effects bother you or do not go away.
Check your blood sugar if you have diabetes
Pregabalin might affect your blood sugar.
You should check your blood sugar more for the first few weeks of taking pregabalin if you have diabetes.
Your diabetes treatment might need to be adjusted depending on how pregabalin affects your blood sugar or weight.
Driving, cycling, machinery and pregabalin
Check with your GP if it’s safe for you to drive, cycle or operate complex machinery while you are taking pregabalin.
Do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machinery if pregabalin:
- makes you sleepy
- gives you blurred vision
- makes you feel dizzy or clumsy
- makes you unable to concentrate or make decisions
Finding your patient information leaflet online
Your patient information leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet that comes in the package of your medicine.
To find your PIL online, visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website
- In the ‘Find a medicine’ search box, enter the brand name of your medicine. A list of matching medicines appears.
- To the right of your medicine, select ‘PIL’. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window.
You can also:
- Select the brand name of your medicine.
- Scroll down to the Documents section.
- From the Package Leaflet line, select PDF version. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window.
If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website opens in a new window when you select ‘PIL’.
You can find your PIL on the EMA website.
Finding your PIL on the EMA website
If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, you will be sent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website.
To find your PIL on the EMA website:
- In the Medicines search box, enter the brand name of your medicine and the word ‘epar’. For example: ‘Zoely epar’. A list of matching medicines appears.
- Select the ‘Human medicine European public assessment report (EPAR)’ for your medicine
- From the table of contents, select Product information.
- Select the EPAR – Product Information link for your medicine. A PDF opens in a new window. The PIL information is in Annex III of the PDF under ‘labelling and package leaflet’
This content was fact checked by a pharmacist, a GP, the National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).