What is Ritalin for?
Ritalin is a drug, which exists in form of tablets and capsules. Its main component – methylphenidate – makes a patient hyperactive and stimulates his body and mind.
This medicine is used for treating multiple attention deficit disorders in adults. Among them are narcolepsy, ADD, and ADHD. The list of conditions that Ritalin can improve is way bigger than we’ve mentioned. Be sure to ask your doctor if this medication is suitable for you.
Sometimes, doctors prescribe Ritalin as a part of the therapy. It means that a patient should take additional medicines to improve his condition.
Is the medicine harmless for everyone?
Short answer: no. Ritalin is a strong drug and some patients may get addicted to it. People with a history of drug or alcohol addiction belong to the category of the highest risk. It’s important that you think of other people as well and keep your medicine away from the reach.
Using Ritalin as prescribed is a very important rule of treatment. If you don’t want to experience numerous unpleasant consequences (up to death).
The stimulant can cause a heart attack or stroke in people who suffer from high blood pressure or various heart-related issues.
The mental health of a patient can also be harmed by Ritalin. The medicine can cause or worsen your psychosis. If you have a history of mental disorders or depression, you should be cautious with this medicine.
What you should know before treatment
Patients who are allergic to the main component (methylphenidate) are not allowed to take Ritalin.
Since this drug can be the reason for a stroke, heart attack, or even death, be sure to notify your doctor about the following conditions you may have: any issue with the heart, high blood pressure, a history of a heart disorder in your family.
If you were using an MAO inhibitor in the past 2 weeks, Ritalin is not an option for you as well.
Certain medicines cannot be combined with stimulants. Your doctor should know about every drug, herb, or supplement you are currently taking.
Also, be sure to share the following information:
- if you have mental disorders or take antidepressants;
- if you take opioids;
- if you have Parkinson’s disease;
- if you take any medicine to fight serious infections.
During pregnancy or breastfeeding, a mother should be extremely cautious. Treatment with Ritalin requires constant medical supervision because the medicine can negatively affect the baby or fetus, and cause premature birth or low birth weight. If you notice the following signs – agitation, problems with sleeping or feeding, reduced weight – contact your doctor right away.
Ritalin cannot be used to treat children under 6.
How should I take Ritalin?
The main rule is to follow the doctor’s instructions. Before you begin the treatment, open the package and read the information leaflet. It will give you more info about side effects and potential dangers. At any time, the doctor can change your dosage.
Since methylphenidate can be addictive, keep your medicine away from other people. Do not sell or share Ritalin with other people.
The drug can be purchased in 2 forms:
- immediate-release tablets
- long-acting extended-release capsules
Once your doctor determines the kind of Ritalin, you may purchase the drug and begin your treatment. The IR tablets can be taken up to 2-3 times per day. In this case, swallow a pill 30 minutes before the meal. If prescribed LA extended-release capsules, don’t take Ritalin more than once a day.
The medicine should be stored in a dry place at a room temperature. Avoid any moisture, light, or heat. Make sure that no one has access to your medication.
Any unwanted or expired drugs should be disposed of. There are 2 ways to do it:
- take the medicine to the nearby pharmacy (if there’s a drug take-back program there);
- mix the rest of the medicine with litter, place it into a plastic bag, and throw it in the trash.
Missing a dose: what to do
If you forget to take your usual dose, there’s nothing to worry about. Take one pill as soon as you can. However, if it’s almost time to take another dose, don’t double it (skip the dose). Always stick to one pill per time.
The signs of overdosing
An OD with Ritalin can be extremely dangerous (in some cases, it may lead to death).
Here’s the list of the most common signs of an overdose:
- dry mouth;
- anxiety, nervousness, agitation;
- accelerated breathing or heart rate;
- pain in the muscles;
- migraine or vertigo;
- fever or sweating;
Safety during treatment with Ritalin
There are certain things you should avoid during your treatment:
- don’t consume alcohol;
- don’t drive;
- don’t perform any dangerous activities, involving heavy machines or tools.
Ritalin and its side effects
If you know that you’re not allergic to Ritalin but experience trouble breathing, and swelling of your throat, tongue, or lips, get medical help.
The following signs during treatment are also a reason to call a doctor:
- chest pain;
- hallucinations, aggressiveness, hostility, psychosis;
- cold feeling, unexplained wounds, skin color changes in your fingers or toes;
- painful erection that lasts for 4 hours and more.
Any above-mentioned inconvenience can be a sign of having side effects. Don’t wait until it wears off or goes away – contact your doctor to adjust the dosage of Ritalin.
Some of the mildest negative effects of Ritalin may include:
- excessive sweating, unusual blood pressure;
- mood swings, anxiousness, being nervous or irritable, problems with sleeping;
- accelerated heart rate;
- loss of appetite, rapid weight loss;
- some of the signs mentioned in the previous part of this article (nausea, dry mouth, etc).
Other medicines and Ritalin
Since Ritalin doesn’t work well with some of the drugs, you should discuss the course of treatment with your doctor before you order the medicine. Notify a health specialist if you’re currently taking antidepressants or have high blood pressure.
The list of the non-compatible drugs is way longer though. Even some harmless vitamins and herbs cannot be taken with methylphenidate. Provide your doctor with a list of all prescription and OTC medicines before treatment.