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If you or your child were diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your healthcare provider may recommend a prescription for Adderall. This drug is also sometimes prescribed to treat narcolepsy. For those considering this treatment, we’ve put together some basic information about Adderall.

This drug is an amphetamine, meaning it’s a stimulant, and it can be addictive and abused. It’s usually prudent to attempt to manage ADHD in other ways before beginning an Adderall prescription—especially in children. There are a number of ways to naturally manage ADHD in kids (and they can help adults, too). However, if these interventions don’t provide satisfactory results, the use of medication may be needed.

How Does Adderall Help?

Adderall is the brand name for a drug made from a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are central nervous system stimulants. These ingredients increase the amount of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that are involved in controlling impulses and hyperactivity.

This medication is typically taken by mouth one to three times per day, with the first dose generally being taken in the morning when you first wake up. It may cause sleep disturbances when taken at night.

What Side Effects can Adderall Cause?

All medication has the potential to cause side effects. They will vary from person to person in severity, frequency, and duration. Often, side effects subside with continued use. However, always mention any side effects to your prescribing doctor, and also if they become more severe.

The most common side effects of Adderall include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping

Rare but serious side effects warrant contacting your doctor right away, and may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood flow problems to the fingers or toes (noted by coldness, numbness, pain, or skin color changes)
  • Unusual wounds on the fingers or toes
  • Significant mood, mental, or behavioral changes (e.g., aggression, depression, abnormal thoughts, paranoia, thoughts of suicide)
  • Hallucinations
  • Uncontrolled movements or vocal outbursts
  • Continuous chewing or teeth grinding
  • Seizures
  • Change in sexual desire or abilities
  • Prolonged erections

What Are Other Possible Concerns When Taking Adderall?

In addition to side effects, there are other potential health concerns when taking Adderall. These include:

  • Adderall can interact with other drugs and supplements; be sure your prescribing doctor knows everything you take (including herbal/natural supplements)
  • Do not use this medicine if you’ve taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days
  • Allergic reactions
  • Addiction; this medication is not recommended for patients with a history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms with abrupt discontinuation
  • Do not take this medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Adderall can raise your blood pressure, an important consideration if you have hypertension or take any drugs or supplements to raise low blood pressure
  • Other conditions that may make you an unsuitable candidate for an Adderall prescription include heart disease, coronary artery disease, vascular disease, heart defects, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, severe anxiety, and psychosis
  • Stimulants can cause heart attack, stroke, and sudden death in people with hypertension, heart disease, or heart defects

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