Choosing the Right ADHD Medication for Your Child
You have many options in types of medications, doses and treatment strategies.
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These are usually taken at three- to four-hour intervals -- usually about 30
minutes before the earlier dose wears off. This means that children have to
take the pills at school, either at lunchtime or another time during the day.
At some schools, this is not always easy to coordinate. Often there is not a
school nurse on site to give the medication, and children are not allowed to
keep their own pills.
But short-acting drugs do help control many children's ADHD symptoms. Often,
children might take a short-acting stimulant in the afternoon -- after the
longer-acting stimulant wears off - so they can participate in after-school
activities or have quieter evenings at home.
Side Effects of Stimulant ADHD Medications
Loss of appetite and weight
loss are common side effects of stimulant ADHD medications. Concern for
growth delay has been raised, but studies have found little or no significant
delay. Children usually catch up later on. Most doctors believe in "drug
holidays" during summers, although no studies have looked at this.
Stimulants are not considered to be habit forming when used to treat ADHD in
children and adolescents. Also, there is no evidence that their use leads to
drug abuse. However, there is a potential for abuse and addiction with any
stimulant medication -- especially if that person has a history of substance
Nonstimulant ADHD Medication
Individual children respond to drugs differently; a child may benefit from
one drug but not another. Because some children don't benefit from stimulant
drugs, doctors have turned to other medications to treat ADHD.
Sold under the trade name Strattera, this is the first nonstimulant ADHD
medication approved by the FDA. Like the stimulants, Strattera works on the
norepinephrine brain chemicals. And also like stimulant drugs, Strattera is
effective in treating and controlling ADHD symptoms. However, this medication
is not a controlled substance and children are less likely to abuse the drug or
become dependant on it.
Strattera is given in a single dose either in the morning or afternoon.
Effects last until the next dose. It may be taken with or without food.
However, some evidence shows that taking it with food will decrease any stomach
Side Effects of Strattera
Overall, Strattera is well tolerated with minimal side effects, according to
the AAP. It doesn't cause many of the potential side effects linked to
stimulants, such as sleeplessness. The most common side effects: upset stomach,
decreased appetite, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and mood swings.
Generally these side effects are not severe, and only a very small percentage
of children in clinical trials testing Strattera stopped this ADHD medication
due to side effects.