Side Effects of Adhd Medications in Children

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Importance of treating ADHD:

Believed to contain a genetic predisposition, ADHD is likely to surface during the child’s pre-school years. Although not all children with ADHD presents with similar characteristics, certain signs may be distinguishable among many of them. When considering the possible symptoms of ADHD, it is apparent that they will interfere with the child’s behavior, which may in turn affect his or her long-term development. Therefore, it is vital to intervene early and control these symptoms with appropriate means of treatments, including methods such as drugs and behavioral therapy.

Drug treatment for ADHD:

According to literature, there are two categories of drugs available in the treatment of ADHD in children. These are the ‘stimulant medications’ and ‘non-stimulant medications’. Stimulants consist of two classes of drugs, which differ based on its active ingredient. One category of stimulants is Methylphenidate-based and includes drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Metadate. The second category contains drugs such as Adderall and Dexedrine, which are Amphetamine-based.

Process of introducing drug treatment:

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) describes both categories of stimulants as equally effective in managing the symptoms of ADHD while Methylphenidate-based drugs has been successfully used in majority of the children. However, not all children with ADHD reacts similarly towards drugs which will necessitate several weeks of trial medications starting from the lowest possible dose of one of the first line drugs. Following initiating, doctors will gradually increase the dose and if the symptoms are not relieved, will change into an alternative drug.

Importance of controlling drug side effects:

Therefore, observing and detecting side effects pertaining to ADHD drugs play a vital part in the long-term management of these children. Minimizing these effects will not only improve the child’s quality of life but would also facilitate improved compliance in continuing the medications.

According to AAP, many children will tolerate ADHD drugs appreciably while most of the side effects will be mild and transient. Thus, the possibility of developing side effects would be high in the first few weeks from the start of medications.

Side effects of ADHD drugs:

Among the side effects reported with stimulants, stomachache, headaches, and poor sleep could be considered rather common. These children may appear restless and jittery when the doses are too much or the sensitivity to the drug is too high. They may eat poorly which will be a concern for the parents and may hamper their growth to a certain extent.

Apart from the above side effects, irritability, dizziness, mood swings, depression, tics, and rapid heartbeat are some of the other manifestations noticed among these children.


Many of these side effects will respond when the drug doses are lowered while in some instances, selecting an alternative drug may be the only option. However, when using small doses because of the side effects, their effectiveness against ADHD symptoms will be less, and this may not serve the purpose for which it was started. Thus, doctors will try to make use of the drug or a drug combination, which results in best control of ADHD symptoms with minimum side effects.


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