Mental disorders can be of several types; one such disorder which affects young adults and children is known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In some instances, this mental condition may persist into your adulthood. In general, girls are less vulnerable to this mental condition. It is often identified when a child has problems in staying focused at school. If detected at an early stage of its incidence, it can help parents to start needful treatment in a timely manner. Concerta (methylphenidate) is a medication administered for the treatment of ADHD. This drug can however trigger a few side effects. It is recommended to know these side effects before starting to take concerta.

Children who are unable to remain attentive may develop problems while they are at school. Such a condition soon has a telling effect on their academic performances. Inability to maintain attention levels or being exceedingly impulsive are often attributed to a mental condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can be accompanied by restlessness and impulsiveness.

ADHD is a condition caused by multiple factors namely, genetics (inherited from one’s parents or family members), comorbidity (people with Down-syndrome are known to have it), environmental factors (exposure to toxic items at the fetal stage), etc. Smoking during pregnancy, highly premature childbirth and abuse during childhood days are also reported as likely causes for this condition. Intake of a few drugs such as acetaminophen for a longer time span – especially during pregnancy, has been identified as another cause for ADHD. Other bodily reasons such as injuries sustained in the brain at an early stage in life or damage of brain function are also known to result in an inattentive or an impulsive frame of mind.

Treatment offered to ADHD

The common approaches to treat ADHD usually includes a combination of drugs and counseling. Childcare physicians may recommend behavior-based therapies such as family-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), imparting of social skills, etc. Younger students in a classroom are more likely to have ADHD than other children. Such children may also need guidance through counseling.

Commonly administered drugs include stimulants such as alpha-2 adrenergic receptor-medications and also a few anti-depressant drugs. Of the stimulants used, methylphenidate (concerta) is a widely used drug. Its use is prescribed for both narcolepsy (a sleep-based disorder) as well as ADHD. The effects of this drug do not present sustainable benefits though; i.e., once you stop taking this drug, improvements may stop and the child’s condition may relapse to the prior stage.

About concerta

This is a drug categorized under a class of medications called stimulants. The key function of this drug is to alter substances in your brain to make you focus on things by enhancing the attention span. It is also known for its powers to boost your listening capabilities as well as your ability to perform tasks in an orderly fashion. The usual dosage of concerta is without or with food, administered mostly in the mornings. If you are taking this drug in the later part of the day, you run the risk of developing sleeping problems or conditions like insomnia.

This drug is taken orally, on a daily basis. A regular intake is recommended as it can lead to better results. However, the strength of your dosage as well as the duration of medication plan may depend on the severity of your mental condition. If you are using it for a long time and if the results do not show up, you are advised to talk to your doctor about it. As this drug is capable of forming a habit, it is not recommended to stop taking this drug immediately. If you discontinue the intake of concerta all of a sudden, you may experience withdrawal signs. Common signs of withdrawal include mood shifts, depression, thoughts about committing suicide, poor mental wellbeing, low self-esteem, restlessness, etc.

Side effects of concerta

Drugs are administered to children only if their mental condition is acute or very severe. However, drugs are considered as a first-line approach to treat ADHD. Drugs such as concerta are known to trigger a few side effects. These include sleeping problems (such as insomnia), drowsiness, loss of bodyweight, reduced appetite, restlessness, etc. It may also result in a few abdominal discomforts such as nausea, vomiting and indigestion. Concerta may also increase your blood pressure levels. You are advised to measure your blood pressure readings often, and report noteworthy spikes – if any.

Very adverse side effects of concerta are discoloration of skin or numbness (owing to reduced flow of blood to your limbs), arrhythmia (faster rate of heartbeats), twitching of muscles, blurring of vision, etc. Other such side effects of concerta include aggressive behavior, mood shifts, being in an agitated frame of mind, nursing thoughts about committing suicide, etc.

Serious side effects of concerta

The serious side effects dosage of concerta may trigger include signs of an imminent cardiac arrest (the most characteristic symptoms of a heart attack are excessive sweating, gasping for breath and experiencing pain on the left side of your body). Other serious effects are seizures or convulsions and passing out. A few people have also experienced symptoms of stroke – such as blurring of vision, being confused or lightheaded, slurring of speech, etc.

In very remote cases, men may report having erection of penis for a prolonged time. This prolonged spell of penile erection may persist, for a duration ranging from 3 to 4 hours. This may occur among younger adults (teens) as well as boys. Caregivers are advised to stay conscious of this serious side effect. As this can be a dangerous condition, you are advised to stop administering the drug immediately. Medical help needs to be provided on an emergency basis.

You may need to note, these serious allergies or side effects are very uncommon. But, concerta may at times trigger a few allergies; you may experience allergic signs such as rashes on skin, itchiness, inflammation of facial organs and oral parts like tongue, throat, etc. Allergies can also show up in the form of extremely high levels of drowsiness, feeling excessively dizzy as well as having respiratory problems such as gasping for breath. You are also advised to note that the aforesaid do not comprise a full list of side effects. So, if you are experiencing any other reactions or allergies – i.e., apart from those listed above – it is a good practice to seek medical help at the soonest possible time.

If you are a resident of Canada, you are advised to talk to a local poison control center without any further delay. You can also talk to Health Canada through their contact numbers. If you are living in the US, you need to get in touch with FDA through their emergency helpline number or call 911.

Overdose of concerta

If you strictly adhere to your medication plan, instances of an overdose of concerta can be avoided. However, due to oversight, if you have accidentally taken an overdose, you are advised to seek medical attention immediately. The most common signs of an overdose are respiratory problems such as gasping. You may also experience acute level of dizziness or passing out. A few other signs of an overdose of concerta are convulsions, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these signs, it is highly recommended to call 911 – if you are living in the US. If you are a resident of Canada, you can get in touch with a poison control centre located closer to you.

Safety measures you can take prior to consuming concerta

Foremost of all, if you have any known allergies to the active ingredients of concerta – especially, methylphenidate or dexmethylphenidate, you need to keep your treating physician informed about it. Not stopping with these active substances, these drugs may also have a few inactive compounds. You need to talk to your pharmacist or treating doctor to take needful guidance on such inactive compounds.

You will also need to tell your doctor about any prior ailments or infections, your medical history of ailments as well as your family’s clinical history. If your medical history includes conditions such as hypertension, cardiac ailments, mental health conditions or intraocular problems like glaucoma, you need to keep your doctor informed about them. Conditions such as a hyperactive thyroid gland, epilepsy or convulsions, internal blocks in your intestinal tract, prior episodes of heart attack and bipolar disorders also need to be shared with the medical team.

Administering concerta to children

If concerta is administered to children – especially, to those aged less than 13 years of age – you may need to measure their height regularly. This is because of the drug’s ability to intervene in your child’s growth. So, when administering concerta to children, it is highly recommended to take breaks and resume its intake. These breaks are essential to keep concerta from affecting your child’s growth process and height. Among elders, this drug may result in loss of bodyweight as well as insomnia. If you observe such effects and also notice signs of angina, you are advised to talk to your physician without further delay.

Other precautions

As this drug can make you drowsy, you are advised not to engage in activities that demand high level of mental agility or alertness. For the same reason, driving or operating heavy machinery may also need to be avoided. While you are taking concerta, it is not a good practice to drink alcohol or substances such as cannabis, marijuana, etc. Also, if you are pregnant, concerta is taken only if it is absolutely necessary. As chemicals present in concerta can pass through breastmilk, you are advised to talk to your treating physician if you are nursing a baby.

Risks of interactions with other medications

Concerta is likely to interact with a few drugs. So, it is a good practice to tell your doctor about the other medicines you are currently consuming before taking this drug. Concerta is known to interact with drugs like MAO inhibiting drugs including methylene blue, linezolid, isocarboxazid, etc. As a general precaution, you are advised to discontinue taking MAO inhibiting medicines at least a fortnight prior to starting a course of concerta.

Concerta may intervene with a few lab reagents as well as some radiological tests (scans). For instance, this drug is known to alter the results of brain scan – especially those done to assess the onset or progress of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. In general, it is a good practice to tell the medical team at the laboratory about your existing treatment plans; especially, intake of drugs such as concerta. Also, a few drugs like dexmethylphenidate have a lot of similarities with concerta. Hence, it is not advised to take such drugs while consuming methylphenidate (i.e., the generic form of concerta).

It is not a good practice to share this drug with your colleagues or classmates. In general, you are advised to measure your height, blood pressure as well as count of blood cells on a periodic basis. Above all, if you need additional information about the safe use of concerta and its side effects, consult a qualified medical practitioner.

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