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ADHD in Children Health Center

ADHD Medication Titration

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Types of Drugs for ADHD continued...

Stimulant drugs can have side effects. These include:

  • appetite decrease with weight loss over time
  • difficulty sleeping
  • stomachache
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • personality changes

Doctors may also consider prescribing a nonstimulant drug such as Strattera (atomoxetine). It works somewhat differently than stimulants. It mainly affects a different chemical messenger -- norepinephrine -- which is also involved in attention, mood, and impulse control.

Other ADHD drugs include:

  • Intuniv (guanfacine). A high blood pressure medicine that can improve attention.
  • Kapvay (clonidine). A high blood pressure medicine that can improve attention.
  • Nuvigil (armodafinil). A drug that promotes wakefulness and can improve attention, but carries a potential risk for serious skin rashes in children.
  • Effexor (venlafaxine). An antidepressant that has been shown to improve attention in early studies.
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion). An antidepressant that may help attention.

Each of these drug classes can also have side effects.

Titration and the Role of Parents

Prescribing ADHD medication isn't always an exact science. It can sometimes take weeks or months to arrive at the correct dose for your child. Make sure that all your questions about the medication and the titration process are answered. And make sure that you fully understand what to expect from the medication before you begin using it.

Parents, as well as the child with ADHD, will need to participate in this process. ADHD medications affect every child differently. So it's important to monitor your child for improvements and side effects during titration.

After your child has been taking the ADHD medicine for at least one week, you and your child's teachers should track ADHD symptoms. You and the teachers should be alert for and report any side effects that occur during treatment.

After a month of treatment, see your child's doctor again. At that time, the doctor can make sure that the:

  • medicine is working
  • dosage is correct
  • side effects are acceptable to you and your child

Once the proper dose is established, experts recommend visiting the doctor regularly -- about every three to six months. The doctor will check whether the drug regimen your child is taking is still appropriate and effective.

If your child does develop side effects, don't change the medication dose or stop taking it without first talking to the doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 08, 2014
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