Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.
Ritalin is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is also used in the treatment of a sleep disorder called narcolepsy (an uncontrollable desire to sleep). When given for attention deficit disorders, Ritalin should be an integral part of a total treatment program that may include counseling or other therapies.
Ritalin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Do not use Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days. Serious, life-threatening side effects can occur if you use Ritalin before the MAO inhibitor has cleared from your body. Do not use this medication if you are allergic to Ritalin or if you have glaucoma, overactive thyroid, severe high blood pressure, tics or Tourette's syndrome, angina, heart failure, heart rhythm disorder, recent heart attack, a hereditary condition such as fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption, or sucrase-isomaltase deficiency, or severe anxiety, tension, or agitation.
Ritalin may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Never share Ritalin with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to
Do not take Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days. Serious, life-threatening side effects can occur if you use Ritalin before the MAO inhibitor has cleared from your body.
Do not use Ritalin if you are allergic to methylphenidate or if you have:
severe high blood pressure;
angina (chest pain), heart failure, heart rhythm disorder, or recent heart attack;
a personal or family history of tics (muscle twitches) or Tourette's syndrome;
severe anxiety, tension, or agitation (methylphenidate can make these symptoms worse); or
a hereditary condition such as fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption, or sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency.
Some stimulants have caused sudden death in children and adolescents with serious heart problems or congenital heart defects. Tell your doctor if you have a congenital heart defect.
If you have any of these other conditions, your doctor may need to adjust the dose of Ritalin or order special tests:
a congenital heart defect;
a personal or family history of mental illness, psychotic disorder, bipolar illness, depression, or suicide attempt;
epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Ritalin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. It is not known whether methylphenidate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Ritalin without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Long-term use of Ritalin can slow a child's growth. Tell your doctor if the child using this medication is not growing or gaining weight properly.
Do not give Ritalin to a child younger than 6 years old without the advice of a doctor.
Take Ritalin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Take Ritalin tablets at least 30 to 45 minutes before a meal. The extended-release forms of Ritalin can be taken with or without food.
Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release Ritalin tablet. Swallow it whole. Breaking the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.
You may open the Ritalin extended-release capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a spoonful of pudding or applesauce to make swallowing easier. Swallow right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use. Discard the empty capsule.
To prevent sleep problems, take this medication early in the day, no later than 6:00 pm.
If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Ritalin. You may need to stop using the medicine the day of your surgery.
Store Ritalin at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Ritalin is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is later than 6:00 p.m. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Ritalin may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Ritalin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking Ritalin and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats;
feeling like you might pass out;
fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
aggression, restlessness, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or motor tics (muscle twitches);
easy bruising, purple spots on your skin; or
dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Less serious Ritalin side effects may include:
stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
vision problems, dizziness, mild headache;
sweating, mild skin rash;
numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet;
nervous feeling, sleep problems (insomnia); or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:
a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);
dobutamine (Dobutrex), epinephrine (EpiPen), or isoproterenol (Isuprel);
cold/allergy medicine that contains phenylephrine (a decongestant);
potassium citrate (Urocit-K, Twin-K), sodium acetate, sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer), citric acid and potassium citrate (Cytra-K, Poly-Citra), or sodium citrate and citric acid (Bicitra, Oracit);
medications to treat high or low blood pressure;
stimulant medications or diet pills;
seizure medicine such as phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital (Luminal), primidone (Mysoline); or
an antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Vanatrip), citalopram (Celexa), doxepin (Sinequan), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), nortriptyline (Pamelor) paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and others.
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Ritalin. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.