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Ritalin Facts

Definition: Ritalin

Ritalin or Methylphenidate hydrochloride is a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity in children. Ritalin is also used to treat/cure uncontrollable desire to sleep (narcolepsy) however in this case it should be used alongside treatment programs that incorporate educational, social and psychological measures. Ritalin treats a number of symptoms of narcolepsy and attention deficit disorder. These symptoms include; short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional changeability and impulsiveness.

Ritalin administration

Ritalin is usually administered as a prescription drug. It is important to note that Ritalin dosage varies from one individual to another. It is because of this reason that Ritalin should be taken according to the doctor's prescription. Only a professional doctor can be able to prescribe the correct dosage after examining a patient. Ritalin shouldn't be self administered. When administering the drug, it is important to note that it should be taken before meals unlike other drugs taken after meals. In case Ritalin causes common symptoms such as insomnia, the last dose of the drug should be taken latest 6 p.m.

It is also important to note that Ritalin drugs i.e. Ritalin LA, Ritalin SR, Methylin ER and Metadate CD should be swallowed and not crushed or chewed. This is because they are long acting Ritalin forms which may cause other health problems or change composition if crushed or chewed. It is however in order to sprinkle contents of Ritalin capsules such as Metadate CD or Ritalin LA in water and then administering the appropriate dosage by drinking that water. Lastly, it is important to note that two doses of Ritalin should never be taken at the same time in case one misses a dose. Instead, the recommended dosage should be continued however in adequately spaced time intervals.

Ritalin storage

Like most drugs, Ritalin should be stored in a cool dry place away from children (preferably a locker) that offers temperatures below 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ritalin side effects

Ritalin has a number of side effects. Below are the most common Ritalin side effects.

1. Nervousness and insomnia: These are by far the most common side effects of Ritalin. Nervousness and insomnia can however be controlled through alteration of dosages. It is however important to consult your doctor first before altering the recommended Ritalin dosage to deal with insomnia and nervousness to avoid causing other serious side effects.

2. Ritalin dependence and addiction: Addiction and dependence are also common Ritalin side effects caused by long term Ritalin use. Most Ritalin users end up developing tolerance towards the drug which prompts for higher dosage to achieve original effects. Because of these risks i.e. addiction and drug dependence, Ritalin must be prescribed by doctor/s. Dosage changes should also be effected under a doctor's supervision.

3. Hypersensitivity: This is also a common Ritalin side effect. Ritalin hypersensitivity effects includes; skin rash, urticaria, arthralgia, fever, erythema multiforme, nausea, anorexia, thrombocytopenic purpura, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, dyskinesia, pulse and blood pressure changes, drowsiness, weight loss, cardiac arrhythmia and abdominal pain. Other common hypersensitivity effects include syndromes such as Tourette's syndrome and psychosis. Ritalin is also known to cause leukopenia or anaemia. Lastly, Ritalin hypersensitivity can also cause scalp hair loss.

Ritalin side effects in children

Ritalin has common side effects in children. These side effects include; loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, insomnia and tachycardia. It is also possible for children to experience other side effects i.e. fever, nausea, skin rash among other common adult side effects mentioned above.

Rare Ritalin side effects

Ritalin, like other drugs has rare side effects which are less common. Such side effects include; abnormal heartbeat rates, abnormal muscular movements, abdominal pain, blood pressure changes, fever, joint pain, hives, drowsiness, hair loss, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, palpitations, skin rash, skin inflammation, skin peeling, weight loss and severe twitching. These rare Ritalin side effects are common after long-term Ritalin use.

Ritalin Warning

Ritalin should never be prescribed to children below 6 years. This is because Ritalin safety/efficacy has not yet been established for this age group. It is also important to note that Ritalin use in children can cause suppressed growth in cases of long-term use. Children should therefore be monitored closely to ensure that Ritalin does not cause such adverse long-term side effects.


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