Methylphenidate (By mouth)


Methylphenidate (meth-il-FEN-i-date)

Treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (sudden attacks of uncontrollable sleepiness). This medicine is a stimulant.

Brand Name(s)

Concerta, Methylin, Ritalin LA, Metadate CD, Ritalin, Ritalin-SR, Metadate ER, Quillivant XR

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to methylphenidate. Do not use this medicine if you have glaucoma, or if you are anxious, tense, or agitated most of the time. Do not use this medicine if you have muscle tics or a history of Tourette syndrome. Do not use this medicine if you have used an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate® within the past 14 days. This medicine should not be given to a child younger than 6 years of age, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

How to Use This Medicine

Long Acting Capsule, Liquid, Long Acting Suspension, Tablet, Chewable Tablet, Long Acting Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.
  • Take the immediate-release tablet 30 to 45 minutes before meals. If you have problems falling asleep, take the last dose of the day before 6 PM.
  • The extended-release form of this medicine is taken once a day, usually just before the morning meal. Swallow the capsule or tablet whole with water or other liquids. Do not break, chew, or crush it.
  • If you cannot swallow the extended-release capsule whole, carefully open the capsule and sprinkle the medicine on one tablespoonful of applesauce. Swallow this mixture right away and drink some water. Do not save the mixture for a later time.
  • Tell your doctor if you cannot swallow the extended-release tablet whole. A different form of the medicine may be needed.
  • Extended-release suspension: Shake the bottle well for at least 10 seconds just before you measure each dose. This medicine should come with a dispenser that you must use to measure the dose. Use only this dispenser.
  • While taking the extended-release form of this medicine, part of the tablet may pass into your stools. This is normal and is nothing to worry about.
  • This medicine is part of an ADHD treatment program that may also include counseling or special education. Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about all treatment measures.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.Throw away any unused mixed extended-release suspension after 4 months.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using phenylbutazone, an antacid, blood pressure medicine, a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®), cold or allergy medicine, medicine for depression (such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, Elavil®, doxepin, Pamelor®, citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, Cymbalta®, Effexor®, Lexapro®, Pristiq®), or medicine for seizures (such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, Dilantin®, Mysoline®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have epilepsy, eye or vision problems, heart disease, heart rhythm problems, high blood pressure, or thyroid problems. Tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures, heart attack, stroke, depression or mental illness (such as bipolar disorder, mania, or psychosis), or drug or alcohol problems. Also tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has tried to commit suicide or talked about suicide.
  • This medicine may cause serious heart or blood vessel problems. This may be more likely in patients who have a family history of heart disease. Check with your doctor right away if you have chest pain, trouble breathing, or fainting while using this medicine.
  • This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you or your family notices any unusual changes in behavior, such as an increase in aggression, hostility, agitation, irritability, or suicidal thinking or behaviors. Also tell your doctor if you have hallucinations or any unusual thoughts, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have blurred vision or changes in vision. This could be a sign of high blood pressure.
  • This medicine may cause slow growth. If your child is using this medicine, the doctor will need to keep track of your child's height and weight to make sure that your child is growing properly.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Chest pain that may spread to your arms, jaw, back, or neck, trouble breathing, nausea, unusual sweating, faintness
  • Extreme energy, mood and mental changes, confusion, nervousness, unusual behavior
  • Fast, slow, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or fainting
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache, trouble seeing, blurred vision

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling mildly anxious, irritable, restless, or nervous
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or stomach pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

Average rating (0)