Ritalin is a brand name for the preparation of methylphenidate hydrochloride. Doctors prescribe Ritalin for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders, known as narcolepsy.
Ritalin is included in a class of drugs called central nervous system stimulants (CNS stimulators). The drug works by changing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which are neurotransmitters and allow signals to move from one nerve cell to another.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first licensed methylphenidate hydrochloride in 1955 to treat what was formerly known as hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, or ADD. The drug was usually prescribed in the 1990s, when the diagnosis of ADHD became more known and accepted. In 2000, Janssen Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for Concerta, an expanded form of Ritalin.
In a 2012 CDC study, it was found that about 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. This is 53% more than in the previous decade. Approximately two thirds of those who are currently diagnosed are prescribed drugs such as Ritalin or adderol (another common CNS stimulant).
When he is prescribed for ADHD, Ritalin is usually part of a treatment plan that can also include cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling or other treatments.
What are the key things I need to know about Ritalin?
Ritalin can be addictive, which can lead to addiction or abuse. If people take too much medicine and find that they no longer control the symptoms, they may have to take large doses. This can lead to unusual changes in behavior.
Patients should also avoid abrupt discontinuation of this medication if they have taken it for a long time. You must tell your doctor if you have ever consumed a large amount of alcohol, have ever used street drugs or abused prescription drugs.
Selling or giving to Ritalin is contrary to law and can cause harm to others. Patients should keep the medicine in a safe place so that others can not consume it. Ritalin can not be used in children under 6 years of age, since safety and efficacy in this group have not been proven. The drug should also not be used for any conditions for which it was not prescribed.
Ritalin can disrupt the thinking and / or human response. Patients should be especially careful while driving or performing actions that require them to be vigilant.
For more information on Ritalin, you can view the FDA treatment guide.
Is there anything special that I should discuss with my doctor before taking Ritalin?
You should tell your doctor if you have heart problems, heart defects, angina, high blood pressure, or a family history of these conditions. It has been reported that Ritalin and other stimulant drugs cause the following:
- Sudden death in those who have heart defects or heart problems
- Stroke and heart attack in adults
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
Mental Health Issues
You should tell your doctor if you have mental health problems. Ritalin was associated with the following psychiatric problems:
- Unusual behavior and thoughts
- Bipolar disorder, especially mania
- Aggressive behavior
- Psychotic symptoms
Patients with circulatory problems should alert the healthcare professional if they experience numbness, pain, discoloration, or sensitivity to fever or toe temperature. You should immediately call your doctor if you have wounds or other injuries appearing on your fingers while taking Ritalin, as these may be signs of numbness.
Patients with a history of convulsive disorder should inform their doctor, because Ritalin can lead to seizures.
Ritalin is not suitable for everyone. People should not take the drug if they:
- Very anxious, worried or tense
- An antidepressant drug called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) was taken within the last 14 days
- Have tics (muscle twitchings), Tourette’s syndrome
- They have an eye condition known as glaucoma
- Allergy to any ingredient in Ritalin
- Age to 6 years
Side Effects of Ritalin
What are the most common and serious side effects of Ritalin?
Some common side effects of Ritalin include:
- Abdominal pain
- Problems with sleep
- Decreased appetite
Other, less common side effects of Ritalin may include:
- Attacks (mainly in patients with a history of seizures)
- Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia)
- The slower growth in children (including weight)
- Blurred vision or changes in vision
- Change in blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Painful or prolonged erections (men who notice this problem should immediately seek medical help because of potential damage)
- Weight loss
- Skin rash
Ritalin is listed by the FDA as a “C” drug, which means that it can pose a risk to an unborn baby on the basis of some studies, although the benefits to the mother may outweigh the potential risks to the fetus. You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
Ritalin can also penetrate into breast milk and can harm an infant. Patients should not breast-feed while using this medication.
Other drugs affect how Ritalin works?
You should tell your doctor about all the medicines that you take, including vitamins and herbal supplements. Ritalin can interact with other drugs, such as:
- antidepressants, including MAOI (socarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline and tranylcypromine)
- blood thinners
- drugs for the treatment of blood pressure
- preparations for the treatment of allergies containing decongestants
Should I avoid any food, drink or activity while taking Ritalin?
Alcohol should be avoided by patients taking Ritalin. Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of methylphenidate or lead to harmful interactions.
Products containing vitamin C, including fruits, juices, broccoli, strawberries, potatoes and tomatoes, can interact with Ritalin and make it less effective. You do not need to completely avoid these foods, but you should try not to consume vitamin C-rich foods about an hour before or after taking Ritalin.
You should also try to avoid drinking carbonated beverages for an hour before and after the daily dose of Ritalin to prevent a decrease in absorption of the active ingredients.
What are the usual dosages?
Your dose of Ritalin will most likely depend on your individual needs and answers and should be adjusted by your health care provider.
Tablets: Usually, doses are administered two or three times a day, 30 to 45 minutes before meals. The average dose is from 20 to 30 milligrams per day. Some patients may require 40 to 60 milligrams, while others require only 15 milligrams a day.
SR tablets: Ritalin-SR tablets may be given in place of conventional tablets. Ritalin-SR tablets should always be swallowed whole and should never be crushed.
Children (6 years and over)
Pills. Most children start with 5 milligrams, twice a day (before breakfast and lunch) with a gradual increase from 5 to 10 milligrams per week. A daily dose of more than 60 milligrams is not recommended.
SR Tablets: Ritalin-SR tablets last about 8 hours. Ritalin-SR tablets should always be swallowed whole and should never be crushed.
What happens if I take too much Ritalin?
If you take too much Ritalin, you will need to seek emergency medical help or call a toxicology center. An overdose of methylphenidate can be fatal.
What happens if I miss a dose of Ritalin?
If you miss a dose of methylphenidate, you will have to take it as soon as you remember. Leave it if it’s later than 6:00 pm. You do not need to take an extra dose to make up for the missed one.