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Is it safe to give Addwize (Methylphenidate) to a child with short attention span?

Q: My son is 12 years old. He was delivered normally and his birth weight was 2.6 kg. Since the beginning he's been having problems in studies. He hasn't failed any class but has been securing lesser marks in successive classes. I took him to a psychologist who tested him. His IQ on MISIC-verbal scale is 92-95. He has been diagnosed to have borderline learning disability, short attention span and lack of concentration. The psychologist suggested to take him to a neurologist to get some medicine to improve his attention span and concentration. The neurologist prescribed Addwize - 10mg (Methylphenidate hydrochloride), half tablet a day for 1 week and then 1 tablet per day for three weeks. Should I give these tablets to my son? Does it have any side effects?

A:Methylphenidate is indicated for use only in patients who are firmly diagnosed as suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). From the description given by you, I am not sure if this diagnosis has been made. It is always better to have more than one opinion on such matters. All children of ADHD do not need drug therapy. When methylphenidate is administered, it should invariably be an integral part of total treatment programme (psychological, social and educational). Merely giving medicine is seldom helpful. The drug should be given for no more than 4 weeks unless there is definite, visible improvement. Taking the medicine without adequate fluid may choke the throat; hence it should be taken with one full glass of water. The medicine should be taken before breakfast and lunch. There are many side effects that may occur including loss of appetite, abdominal pain, loss of sleep, increased pulse rate, skin rash, fever, headache, drowsiness, headache and abnormal, involuntary muscle movements. If aggravation of symptoms occur, the medicine should be discontinued.

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