What are the Side Effects of Ritalin?

What are the Side Effects of Ritalin?

Have you or a loved one been prescribed Ritalin?  Ritalin is a prescription used to treat ADHD. Knowing the side effects can help you know what to expect.  It can also be helpful when preparing to ask your doctor questions about ADHD treatment options.

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a brand of the drug methylphenidate. It is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Ritalin is used to help someone concentrate better. It may also help a person control their actions more, listen better, and focus.  Ritalin also reduces fidgeting. This may be especially helpful for people at work or in school.

Side Effects

Any medication will have intended effects, as well as unwanted effects. Those unwanted effects are also known as side effects. Not everyone will experience every side effect.
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Many different factors will impact a person’s response to a medication, including age, size, medical history, and genetics. Some side effects may be minor, while others could be life threatening. Most people will not have serious side effects. After all, a doctor that prescribed a medication is already aware of any effects and has determined that the benefits are worth the potential side effects.
Common Side Effects:
  • Nervousness
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
Other side effects have the potential to cause serious medical effects. Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following side effects:
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Signs of blood flow problems (coldness, numbness, or pain, especially in fingers or toes)
  • Mental or behavioral changes (aggression, agitation, mood swings, thoughts of suicide)
  • New uncontrolled muscle movements (shaking, twitching)
  • New instances of verbal outbursts of words or sounds
  • Blurred vision
Other side effects need more than just a doctor consultation. These side effects may be connected to serious health complications.  While these side effects are rare, they have occurred. Please seek immediate medical help or call 911 if you experience any of the following side effects:
  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Symptoms of heart attack (such as shortness of breath, unusual sweating, or pain in the chest, jaw, or left arm)
  • Symptoms of stroke (confusion, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, weakness on one side of the body)
  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction (rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing).
Misuse of Ritalin, or taking too high a dose, may lead to paranoia, hostility, confusion, hallucinations, twitching, or seizures.

Impacts on Children

Ritalin may cause different reactions in children.  For example, Ritalin can temporarily affect and slow a child’s growth. Growth hindrance is especially common in the first two years of Ritalin use.  In order to encourage growth, doctors may choose to have children take a break from the medication during summertime.  Summer is an ideal time for a break from the drug as the child may not need the same help focusing.  This allows doctors and parents to observe the child’s behavior and symptoms without the medication.  This also gives children a break from potential side effects.
Ritalin is typically a safe medication that successfully helps adults and children manage attention deficit and hyperactivity. However, just as with any medication, side effects can occur. In some cases, these can cause medical concerns.  Seek the advice from a medical professional for any questions or concerns about Ritalin.   Get immediate medical attention if you or a loved one experienced any serious side effects.


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