Mixing Medications: Over-the-Counter and Stimulants


"Is it safe to take over-the-counter medications for colds at the same time as ADHD medications? Are there any combinations that would be unsafe?"

Dr. Larry Silver M.D. is the author of two books about parenting ADHD/LD children.

Most of the over-the-counter medications used to treat colds and fevers can be used safely while taking an ADHD drug. If you or your child takes an amphetamine (brand names Adderall, Dexedrine), you may want to avoid antihistamines. Amphetamines may counteract the sedative effect of antihistamines, and this interaction could be dangerous.

You should also avoid mixing alkalinizing agents, or antacids, with amphetamines, as they can increase the absorption of the stimulant. Neither reaction appears to happen with methylphenidate (brand names Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana).

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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