Generic Name: methylphenidate (oral) (METH il FEN i date)
Brand Name: Aptensio XR, Concerta, Cotempla XR-ODT, Metadate CD, Metadate ER, Methylin, QuilliChew ER, Quillivant XR, Ritalin
Medically reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD. Last updated on April 1, 2021.
What is Ritalin?
Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.
Ritalin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not use Ritalin if you have glaucoma, tics or Tourette's syndrome, or severe anxiety, tension, or agitation.
Methylphenidate may be habit-forming, and this medicine is a drug of abuse. Tell your doctor if you have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in people with high blood pressure, heart disease, or a heart defect.
Do not use Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Methylphenidate may cause new or worsening psychosis (unusual thoughts or behavior), especially if you have a history of depression, mental illness, or bipolar disorder.
You may have blood circulation problems that can cause numbness, pain, or discoloration in your fingers or toes.
Call your doctor right away if you have: signs of heart problems - chest pain, feeling light-headed or short of breath; signs of psychosis - paranoia, aggression, new behavior problems, seeing or hearing things that are not real; signs of circulation problems - unexplained wounds on your fingers or toes.
Before taking this medicine
Do not use Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
You may not be able to use Ritalin if you are allergic to methylphenidate, or if you have:
a personal or family history of tics (muscle twitches) or Tourette's syndrome; or
severe anxiety, tension, or agitation (stimulant medicine can make these symptoms worse).
Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in certain people. Tell your doctor if you have:
heart problems or a congenital heart defect;
high blood pressure; or
a family history of heart disease or sudden death.
To make sure Ritalin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has ever had:
depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts or actions;
motor tics (muscle twitches) or Tourette's syndrome;
blood circulation problems in the hands or feet;
seizures or epilepsy;
problems with the esophagus, stomach, or intestines;
an abnormal brain wave test (EEG); or
a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
It is not known whether Ritalin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of methylphenidate on the baby.
It is not known whether methylphenidate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Ritalin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 years old.
How should I take Ritalin?
Take Ritalin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take Ritalin in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Your dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of methylphenidate. Avoid medication errors by using only the form and strength your doctor prescribes.
Ritalin may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
To prevent sleep problems, take this medicine in the morning.
Ritalin tablets and Ritalin SR tablets should be taken at least 30 to 45 minutes before a meal. Extended-release Ritalin LA capsules can be taken with or without food. Follow the directions on your medicine label.
Do not crush, chew, or break a sustained-release tablet. Swallow the tablet whole. Breaking the tablet may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.
To make swallowing easier, you may open the Ritalin LA capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a spoonful of pudding or applesauce. Swallow right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use.
While using Ritalin, your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine.
If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Ritalin. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of your medicine. Methylphenidate is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.
What happens if I miss a dose?
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.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of methylphenidate could be fatal.
What to avoid
Methylphenidate may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Ritalin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Ritalin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
signs of heart problems - chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling like you might pass out;
signs of psychosis - hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), new behavior problems, aggression, hostility, paranoia;
signs of circulation problems - numbness, pain, cold feeling, unexplained wounds, or skin color changes (pale, red, or blue appearance) in your fingers or toes;
a seizure (convulsions);
muscle twitches (tics);
changes in your vision; or
penis erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer (rare).
Methylphenidate can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.
Common Ritalin side effects may include:
mood changes, feeling nervous or irritable, sleep problems (insomnia);
fast heart rate, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest, increased blood pressure;
loss of appetite, weight loss;
dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect Ritalin?
Ask your doctor before using a stomach acid medicine (including Alka-Seltzer or sodium bicarbonate). Some of these medicines can change the way your body absorbs methylphenidate, and may increase side effects.
Many drugs can interact with methylphenidate. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
Frequently asked questions
- Ritalin vs Adderall: What is the difference?
- Concerta vs Adderall - What's the difference between them?
- Ritalin vs Vyvanse - What's the difference between them?
- What are the brands of methylphenidate?
- How is Cotempla XR-ODT different to other brands of methylphenidate?
More about Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 157 Reviews
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: CNS stimulants
- FDA Alerts (3)
Related treatment guides
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Ritalin only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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