Neurontin and Weight Gain

Several side effects are possible with Neurontin, and weight gain has been reported. It appears more frequently in children than in adults and can often be combated by eating heart-healthy foods and exercising regularly. However, if you experience a rapid weight gain, you should report this to your healthcare provider, as it may be a sign of a serious medical condition.

Does Neurontin Cause Weight Gain?

Neurontin® (gabapentin) is a prescription medication approved to treat certain epileptic seizures. It is also approved to treat postherpetic neuralgia, a type of nerve pain that follows a shingles infection. Weight gain is one of the possible Neurontin side effects. This data comes from clinical trials where the drug was extensively studied and side effects were documented.

Understanding Clinical Trials

Before medications are approved in the United States, they must go through several clinical studies, where thousands of people are given a particular medicine and compared to a group of people not given the medicine (they are given a "sugar pill," or placebo, instead).
In these studies, side effects are always carefully documented. This way, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
In studies, up to 3.4 percent of children taking Neurontin for controlling seizures experienced weight gain, compared to just 0.8 percent of a similar group of children not taking the drug. However, weight gain in children is generally not unusual or unhealthy.
This is also a possible side effect in adults, although it is less common. In adults, up to 2.9 percent of people taking Neurontin experienced weight gain, compared to just 1.6 percent of adults not taking it.

Weight Gain With Neurontin: Suggestions

If you notice unexplained or bothersome weight gain while taking Neurontin, there are some things that you can do. Some suggestions include:
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. This diet should include:
    • Lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (heart-healthy foods)
    • Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
    • Few foods with saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
If you are gaining weight rapidly, this may be due to fluid retention and heart failure, other possible side effects of Neurontin. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you notice rapid weight gain, as this can be a sign of congestive heart failure (CHF).
Also, if you are noticing a weight gain with Neurontin, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can suggest other ways of dealing with this problem. He or she may also look for other causes of this, such as certain medical conditions. If the problem continues, your healthcare provider may recommend other lifestyle changes or possibly switching to another medication for bipolar disorder or epilepsy.
(Click BMI Calculator to see if your weight is within a healthy range.)
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