Learning Disability, Causes, Treatment, Diet, Food Allergy, Prescription Drugs, ADD, ADHD

  Learning Disability  
and Drugs

Learning Disability, Causes, Treatment, Diet, Food Allergy, Prescription Drugs, ADD, ADHD


Ritalin and Other ADHD Drugs

It is estimated that nearly 3 million children in the United States are prescribed stimulant drugs like Ritalin to control ADHD symptoms. That's a whole lot of kids. Supporters proudly refer to medical studies showing improvement of focus and behavior for about 2/3 of test patients. Detractors question the wisdom of exposing children to drugs similar to "speed". Most people hold quite strong opinions on the subject, some bordering on emotional. What are the facts?

Learning Disability, Causes, Treatment, Diet, Food Allergy, Prescription Drugs, ADD, ADHDAlthough the exact mechanism of attention deficit disorder is not well understood, it is believed that an imbalance of brain neurotransmitters plays a large role. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that pass information between brain cells. If they are compromised, brain signals become weak and get lost in the background noise of other chemicals. Under these conditions, it is easy to become distracted and difficult to focus on a task at hand. (For more information, click on neurotransmitters to visit a webpage with a good technical overview.) Stimulant drugs have chemical structures similar to neurotransmitters and promote communication between brain cells. If the dose is correct, these stimulants correct deficiencies and allow the brain to function more normally. Of course, if the dose is too high, intoxication results. The trick is to find the right stimulant and the correct dose. So, doctors treat ADHD by prescribing various candidate drugs, noting results and adjusting dosage until a patient shows the desired improvement.

Learning Disability, Causes, Treatment, Diet, Food Allergy, Prescription Drugs, ADD, ADHDWhen a child is out of control in the classroom, a very destructive cycle of disapproval and rebellion ensues. Teachers become frustrated and respond negatively which usually perpetuates the problem. Most children disapprove of disruptive classroom behavior and a child with ADHD can become isolated and develop social problems on top of learning trouble. It's a vicious cycle that can lead to a lifetime of regrets. Anything that can break this cycle is welcome. Drugs like Ritalin are effective for many children and can make a difference. Could they help your child? If you don't try, you will never know. If you try and don't like the results, you can always stop.

Of course, Ritalin is not perfect and you cannot expect a miracle. Stimulants don't work for all ADHD children and nothing will transform a problem child into an angel. What you must look for is significant improvement worth the effort and the risk. That's all, just significant improvement. And even when you find a drug that works, there are many additional things that can be done to help your child. Diet, vitamins and classroom strategies can be just as important as drugs. For instance, if your child has a compromised enzyme system for removal of chemicals called phenols, certain foods can upset the balance of neurotransmitters and stimulant drugs. In such cases, further improvement may be achieved by following the Feingold Diet and eliminating phenolic preservatives and food colors from your child's diet. Other imbalances can be helped by vitamins, supplements and detox programs. And everyone can benefit from common sense strategies for organizing notebooks and scheduling homework.

Drug

Effective

Side Effects

Pros

Cons

Concerta

1 to 12 hrs Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Fast acting
yet very
long lasting
May increase
anxiety and
motor tics
Ritalin 1/2 to 4 hrs Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Effective
with good
safety record
Needs several
dosages, may
cause anxiety
Ritalin SR 2 to 7 hrs Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Longer lasting
with good
safety record
Slower to act,
may promote
anxiety or tics
Dexedrine
Tablets
(or Spanules)
1/2 to 4 hrs
or Spanules
(1 to 10 hrs)
Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Fast acting
with good
safety record
May cause
problems with
anxiety or tics
Adderall XR 1/2 to 12 hrs Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Fast acting
and extremely
long lasting
May cause
problems with
anxiety or tics
Tofranil or
Norpramin
1 to 24 hrs Dry mouth,
insomnia,
weight loss
Helps ADHD
and anxiety or
depression
May cause
heartrate
fluctuations
Metadate CD 1 to 10 hrs Insomnia,
weight loss,
headache
Long lasting
and good
safety record
May cause
problems with
anxiety or tics
Catapres
Skinpatch
5 days Sleepiness,
dry mouth,
low pressure
Helps ADHD,
aggression
and tics
May cause
sleepiness
during day

Strattera

1 to 6 hrs Weight loss,
glaucoma,
tachycardia
No stimulant
and does not
cause insomnia
New drug
without a long
safety record


Drugs like Ritalin are classed as controlled substances and must be prescribed by a doctor. As an overview, the table above presents the many options available. Note that most of the listed drugs are stimulants and carry side effects like insomnia. As a result, they are prescribed for use during the day and hopefully wear off before bedtime. One exception is a new drug called Strattera which is not a stimulant but improves the lifetime of a neurotransmitter in the brain called norepinephrine. Of course, all information presented is intended simply to enhance your general knowledge and is not a substitute for sound medical advice.

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