What is this medicine?
METHYLPHENIDATE (meth il FEN i date) is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Methylin, Ritalin
What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- anxiety or panic attacks
- circulation problems in fingers and toes
- hardening or blockages of the arteries or heart blood vessels
- heart disease or a heart defect
- high blood pressure
- history of a drug or alcohol abuse problem
- history of stroke
- liver disease
- mental illness
- motor tics, family history or diagnosis of Tourette's syndrome
- suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempt; a previous suicide attempt by you or a family member
- thyroid disease
- an unusual or allergic reaction to methylphenidate, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medicine?
Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. It is best to take this medicine 30 to 45 minutes before meals, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Usually the last dose of the day will be taken at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, so it will not interfere with sleep. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 6 years of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
What may interact with this medicine?
Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
- MAOIs like Carbex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate
- other stimulant medicines for attention disorders, weight loss, or to stay awake
This medicine may also interact with the following medications:
- certain medicines for blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heart beat
- certain medicines for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances
- certain medicines for seizures like carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin
- cold or allergy medicines
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. This prescription requires that you follow special procedures with your doctor and pharmacy. You will need to have a new written prescription from your doctor or health care professional every time you need a refill.
This medicine may affect your concentration, or hide signs of tiredness. Until you know how this drug affects you, do not drive, ride a bicycle, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness.
Tell your doctor or health care professional if this medicine loses its effects, or if you feel you need to take more than the prescribed amount. Do not change the dosage without talking to your doctor or health care professional.
For males, contact your doctor or health care professional right away if you have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours or if it becomes painful. This may be a sign of a serious problem and must be treated right away to prevent permanent damage.
Decreased appetite is a common side effect when starting this medicine. Eating small, frequent meals or snacks can help. Talk to your doctor if you continue to have poor eating habits. Height and weight growth of a child taking this medicine will be monitored closely.
Do not take this medicine close to bedtime. It may prevent you from sleeping.
If you are going to need surgery, a MRI, CT scan, or other procedure, tell your doctor that you are taking this medicine. You may need to stop taking this medicine before the procedure.
Tell your doctor or healthcare professional right away if you notice unexplained wounds on your fingers and toes while taking this medicine. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you experience numbness or pain, changes in the skin color, or sensitivity to temperature in your fingers or toes.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?
Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
- allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- changes in vision
- chest pain or chest tightness
- fast, irregular heartbeat
- fingers or toes feel numb, cool, painful
- hallucination, loss of contact with reality
- high blood pressure
- males: prolonged or painful erection
- severe headaches
- shortness of breath
- suicidal thoughts or other mood changes
- trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- uncontrollable head, mouth, neck, arm, or leg movements
- unusual bleeding or bruising
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
- loss of appetite
- nausea, vomiting
- trouble sleeping
- weight loss
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medicine?
Keep out of the reach of children. This medicine can be abused. Keep your medicine in a safe place to protect it from theft. Do not share this medicine with anyone. Selling or giving away this medicine is dangerous and against the law.
This medicine may cause accidental overdose and death if taken by other adults, children, or pets. Mix any unused medicine with a substance like cat litter or coffee grounds. Then throw the medicine away in a sealed container like a sealed bag or a coffee can with a lid. Do not use the medicine after the expiration date.
Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Protect from light and moisture. Keep container tightly closed.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy