Mixing Medications: Over-the-Counter and Stimulants


"My child takes medication for ADHD. Is it safe to give her over-the-counter medications for colds and so on? Are there any 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 your daughter takes an amphetamine (brand names Adderall, Dexedrine), you may want to avoid giving her 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 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. He is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
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