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ADHD Medication for Children: Is It Safe?

  • What Is ADHD?

    What Is ADHD?

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a
    common behavioral disorder. It’s most often diagnosed in childhood. According
    to the Centers for Disease
    Control, three to seven percent of American children are believed to have
    ADHD. 

    Common symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity,
    impulsivity, and an inability to focus or concentrate. Children may outgrow
    their ADHD symptoms. However, many adolescents and adults continue to
    experience the symptoms of ADHD. With treatment, children and adults alike can
    have a happy, well-adjusted life with ADHD.

  • Why Are Medications Used?

    Why Are Medications Used?

    According to the National
    Institute of Mental Health, the goal of any ADHD medication is to reduce
    the symptoms. Certain medications can help a child with ADHD better focus.
    Together with behavioral therapy and counseling, medicine can make the symptoms
    of ADHD more manageable.

    Click through this slideshow to learn more about what medications
    are used to treat ADHD and who is best suited to use them.

  • Which Medications Are Used?

    Which Medications Are Used?

    Several
    medicines are prescribed to treat ADHD symptoms. These include:

    • Non-stimulant
      atomoxetine (Strattera)
    • Antidepressants
    • Psychostimulants.
      These medicines, also called stimulants, are the most commonly prescribed
      treatment for ADHD. There are four classes of psychostimulants:
    • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
    • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
    • Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall XR)
    • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) 

    Your child’s symptoms and personal health history will
    determine the type of drug a doctor prescribes. A doctor may need to try
    several of these before finding one that works.

  • The Most Popular ADHD Medicine: Stimulants

    The Most Popular ADHD Medicine: Stimulants

    The idea of giving an overactive child a stimulant may
    seem like a contradiction, but decades of research and use have shown that they
    are very effective. Stimulants have a calming effect on children who have ADHD,
    which is why they are the most
    commonly prescribed medicine for treating ADHD. They are often used in
    combination with other treatments with very successful results.

  • Minor Side Effects of ADHD Medicines

    Minor Side Effects of ADHD Medicines

    Common side effects of ADHD medication include anxiety,
    irritability, decreased appetite, and problems sleeping. When children first
    begin taking a medication, they may experience an upset stomach or headache,
    according to the National
    Institute of Mental Health.

    Your doctor may need to adjust your child’s dosage to
    relieve some of these side effects. Most of the side effects fade after several
    weeks of use. If side effects persist, ask your child’s doctor about trying a
    different medicine or changing the medicine form.

  • Less Common Side Effects of ADHD Medicines

    Less Common Side Effects of ADHD Medicines

    More serious, but less common side effects can occur with
    ADHD medicine. They include:

    • Tics. Stimulant medication may cause
      children to develop repetitive movements or sounds. These movements and sounds
      are called “tics.”
    • Heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. The
      Food
      and Drug Administration has warned that ADHD patients who have existing
      heart conditions may be more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or sudden
      death if they take stimulant medication.
    • Additional psychiatric problems. Some
      patients taking stimulant medications may develop psychiatric problems. These
      problems include hearing voices and seeing things that do not exist. It’s
      important you talk with your child’s doctor about any family history of
      psychiatric problems.
    • Suicidal thoughts. Some patients may experience
      depression or develop suicidal thoughts. Report any unusual behaviors to your
      child’s doctor.
  • Are ADHD Medications Safe?

    Are ADHD Medications Safe?

    ADHD medicine is considered safe and effective. The risks
    are small, and the benefits are well documented. Proper medical supervision is
    still important. Some children may develop more troublesome side effects than
    others. Many of these can
    be managed by working with your child’s doctor to alter dosage or switch
    the type of medication used. Many children will benefit from a combination of
    medicine and behavioral therapy, training, or counseling.

  • Can Medicine Cure ADHD?

    Can Medicine Cure ADHD?

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for ADHD. Medications
    only treat and help control symptoms. However, the right combination of
    medicine and therapy can help your child lead a productive life. It may take
    time to find the right dose and best medicine, and the National
    Institute of Mental Health has found that regular monitoring and
    interaction with your child’s doctor actually helps your child receive the best
    treatment.

  • Can You Treat ADHD without Medication?

    Can You Treat ADHD without Medication?

    If you’re not ready to give your child medication, talk
    with your child’s doctor about behavioral therapy or psychotherapy. Both
    can be successful treatments for ADHD. Your doctor can connect you with a
    therapist or psychiatrist who can help your child learn to cope with their ADHD
    symptoms. Some children may benefit from group therapy sessions as well. Your
    doctor or your hospital’s health learning office can help you find a therapy
    session for your child and possibly even for you, the parent.

  • How Can I Dispense Medicine Wisely?

    How Can I Dispense Medicine Wisely?

    All medicines, including those used to treat the symptoms
    of ADHD, are only safe if they’re used correctly. That’s why it’s important you
    learn and teach your child to take only the medicine a doctor prescribes in the
    way the doctor instructs. Diverging from this plan may cause serious side
    effects.

    Until your child is old enough to wisely handle their own
    medication, parents should administer the medicine every day. Work with your
    child’s school to set up a safe plan for taking medication should they need to
    take a dose while at school.

  • Taking the Charge on Treating ADHD

    Taking the Charge on Treating ADHD

    Treating ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all plan. Each
    child, based on their individual symptoms, may require different treatments.
    Some children will respond well to medicine alone. Others may need behavioral
    therapy to learn to control some of the symptoms. By working with your child’s
    doctor, a team of healthcare professionals, and even their school, you can find
    ways to wisely treat your child’s ADHD with or without medication.

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References:

  • What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    (ADHD, ADD)? (n.d.) National Institute of
    Mental Health.
    Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    in children. (2013, 5 March). Mayo
    Foundation for Medical Education and Research
    . Retrieved September 20, 2013,
    from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
  • Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
    (ADHD): Data & Statistics. (2013, 13 May). The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Retrieved
    September 24, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html.
  • FDA Issues Safety Communication about an Ongoing
    Review of Stimulant Medications Used in Children with ADHD. (2009, 15 June). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    Retrieved September 26, 2013, from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm166616.htm.

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More ADHD Slideshows
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Posted by: Dr.Health

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