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Methylphenidate oral tablet side effects: A detailed guide

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More common side effectsMild side effectsSerious side effectsSide effects in childrenFAQsMisuse and dependenceCouponSide effects in detailWarningsAsk your doctor
Methylphenidate oral tablet is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It’s a stimulant drug that may cause mild or serious side effects. These include heart-related side effects and a risk of misuse and dependence.
Medically reviewed by Amber R. Watson, PharmD
Updated on July 28, 2023

This article describes possible side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet. You’ll also find information on cost savings and coupon options for methylphenidate. You can explore this overview article to learn more about methylphenidate oral tablet, including the drug’s uses, side effects, and more.

Methylphenidate oral tablet is a generic version of the brand-name drug Ritalin. Methylphenidate also comes in other forms you swallow and a patch you apply to your skin, but these forms aren’t described in this article. To learn more about them, talk with your doctor.

Boxed warning: Risk of misuse and dependence

Methylphenidate has a boxed warning for the risk of misuse and dependence. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Misuse and dependence and methylphenidate” section below.

More common side effects of methylphenidate

Methylphenidate oral tablet may cause mild or serious side effects. Below are some of the more common side effects of this medication.

Commonly reported side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of methylphenidate in detail” section below.

Mild side effects of methylphenidate

Methylphenidate may cause certain mild side effects. Most often, mild side effects are temporary and can be easily managed. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have side effects that don’t go away or become bothersome.

Mild side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet that occurred in studies include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of methylphenidate in detail” section below.

Methylphenidate oral tablet may cause more mild side effects than those listed above. For details, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Serious side effects of methylphenidate

Methylphenidate may cause certain serious side effects. If you have any serious side effects from methylphenidate oral tablet, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency or your side effects feel life threatening, take immediate action. Call 911 or a local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. Visit MedWatch’s website if you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with methylphenidate.

Serious side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet that occurred in studies include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of methylphenidate in detail” section below.
Methylphenidate oral tablet has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Misuse and dependence and methylphenidate” section below.

Side effects of methylphenidate in children

For children, doctors prescribe methylphenidate oral tablet to treat conditions such as:

In studies, slowed growth was more common in children than in adults taking methylphenidate oral tablet.

If your doctor prescribes methylphenidate oral tablet for your child, they’ll monitor your child’s height and weight during treatment with the drug. If your child isn’t growing or gaining height or weight as expected when taking methylphenidate, your doctor may recommend a different treatment option.

If you’d like to know more about side effects in children taking methylphenidate oral tablet, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Common questions about side effects of methylphenidate

Here are answers to some common questions about side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet. If you have other questions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Are side effects of methylphenidate in females similar to those seen in males?

Yes, for the most part. In studies, side effects of methylphenidate in females* were mostly similar to those seen in males.*

Males taking methylphenidate may experience priapism as an additional side effect. This is a prolonged, painful erection requiring immediate medical treatment.

Talk with your doctor if you have additional questions or want to learn more about your risk of side effects from taking methylphenidate oral tablet.

* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth.

Does methylphenidate cause long-term side effects?

Yes, in some cases, methylphenidate oral tablet may cause long-term side effects. These can occur if you take the drug for a long time. Some may also happen after stopping treatment.

Examples of long-term side effects reported with methylphenidate oral tablet include:

  • priapism (prolonged, painful erection requiring immediate medical treatment), which may occur even after stopping treatment
  • reduced blood flow, including Raynaud’s phenomenon, which typically goes away when treatment is stopped
  • slowed growth when prescribed long term for children
  • heart and blood vessel effects*
  • mental health side effects*
  • risk of misuse and dependence

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of methylphenidate in detail” section below.
Methylphenidate oral tablet has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Misuse and dependence and methylphenidate” section below.

Talk with your doctor to learn more about these side effects and how to manage them. Ask your doctor for more information about how long these side effects of methylphenidate may last.

How long do side effects of methylphenidate typically last?

It depends. In most cases, side effects caused by methylphenidate are temporary. They tend to go away on their own as you continue taking the drug.

But some people may have bothersome side effects that don’t go away. Let your doctor or pharmacist know if this happens to you. They can decide whether it’s safe for you to keep taking methylphenidate. They can also suggest a treatment for your symptoms if one is available.

Misuse and dependence and methylphenidate

Methylphenidate oral tablet has a boxed warning for the risk of misuse and dependence. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Like other central nervous system stimulants, methylphenidate poses a high risk of misuse and dependence. With misuse, a drug is taken in a way other than how it’s prescribed. Dependence is when your body needs the drug in order to function like usual.

Due to the high risk of misuse and dependence, methylphenidate oral tablet is a controlled substance. This means doctors and pharmacists must follow strict rules when prescribing and dispensing the drug.

Before prescribing methylphenidate, your doctor will review your health history. If you have a substance use disorder, they may suggest a different treatment for your condition. They’ll also monitor you closely for symptoms of misuse during treatment.

While taking methylphenidate oral tablet, be careful to keep your medication stored in a safe place where it isn’t easily accessible to others. And take the drug exactly as your doctor recommends.

Talk with your doctor if you have additional questions about methylphenidate and the risk of misuse or dependence.

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Side effects of methylphenidate in detail

Below you’ll find details on some of the side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet.

Gastrointestinal side effects

In studies, gastrointestinal side effects were somewhat common in people taking methylphenidate oral tablet. These side effects are usually mild. They affect your digestive tract.

Gastrointestinal side effects reported with methylphenidate include:

Ways to manage

If you experience digestive side effects, they may go away as you continue taking methylphenidate. But tell your doctor if your symptoms are bothersome or don’t go away. They can review your symptoms and suggest an appropriate treatment. This may include stopping treatment with methylphenidate oral tablet.

Heart and blood vessel effects

In studies, heart and blood vessel effects were rare in people using methylphenidate oral tablet. These side effects may be serious.

Specific heart and blood vessel effects reported with methylphenidate oral tablets include:

Certain factors can increase the risk of heart and blood vessel effects with methylphenidate oral tablet. These include having an existing heart condition, including coronary artery disease or an irregular heart rhythm.

Ways to manage

The heart and blood vessel effects that methylphenidate may cause are serious. Call 911 or seek emergency medical help if your symptoms feel life threatening, such as difficulty breathing or severe chest pain.

If you have a heart or blood vessel side effect while taking methylphenidate, your doctor may suggest stopping the medication. They may also suggest other treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy.

Mental health side effects

In studies, mental health side effects were rare in people taking methylphenidate oral tablet. These side effects may be serious.

Mental health side effects reported with methylphenidate oral tablet include:

Certain factors can increase the risk of mental health side effects with methylphenidate oral tablet. These include having an existing mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression.

Ways to manage

If you experience symptoms of a mental health side effect, immediately tell your doctor. They’ll likely recommend stopping treatment with methylphenidate.

Suicide prevention

If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

Allergic reaction

For some people, methylphenidate oral tablet can cause an allergic reaction.

Symptoms can be mild or serious, and they may include:

  • itchiness
  • skin rash
  • swelling under the skin, usually affecting eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should keep taking the medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to methylphenidate oral tablet, your doctor may recommend taking a different medication instead.

Warnings for methylphenidate

Below are some factors you may want to discuss with your doctor before taking methylphenidate oral tablet.

Boxed warning: Risk of misuse and dependence

Methylphenidate has a boxed warning for the risk of misuse and dependence. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Misuse and dependence and methylphenidate” section above.

Other warnings

It may not be safe for you to take methylphenidate oral tablet if you have specific health conditions. These are sometimes called drug-condition interactions. Other things may also affect whether methylphenidate oral tablet is a safe treatment option for you.

Before taking methylphenidate oral tablet, tell your doctor about your health and medications you take. Things to consider include:

Methylphenidate and pregnancy

It’s not known whether methylphenidate oral tablet should be taken during pregnancy. If you’re planning a pregnancy or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking this medication.

Consider joining the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication pregnancy registry if you and your doctor agree that you’ll take methylphenidate oral tablet while pregnant. Pregnancy registries help doctors and patients make safe treatment decisions during pregnancy. You can learn more or join the registry by calling 866-961-2388 or visiting this site.

Methylphenidate and breastfeeding

If you’re currently breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before taking this medication. If you and your doctor agree you’ll breastfeed while taking methylphenidate oral tablet, monitor your child for side effects. Examples include agitation, trouble sleeping, and difficulty gaining weight.

Methylphenidate and alcohol

Methylphenidate oral tablet is not known to interact with alcohol.

But if you have side effects from methylphenidate, drinking alcohol could make them worse. These side effects include anxiety or nervousness, vomiting, and dizziness.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe to consume it during your treatment with methylphenidate oral tablet.

What to ask your doctor

This article describes common and serious side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet. If your doctor prescribes this medication, they can discuss possible side effects with you. Let your doctor know if you have concerns or questions about treatment with this medication.

Here’s a list of some possible questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • How do side effects of methylphenidate oral tablet compare with other treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
  • Are there treatment options for narcolepsy that aren’t controlled substances like methylphenidate?
  • Do other medications I take interact with methylphenidate and raise my risk of side effects?
  • Before I start taking methylphenidate, are there screenings or tests I should have to help determine my risk of side effects?

Disclaimer: Optum Perks has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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