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What Is Atomoxetine HCl?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
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Atomoxetine HCl is a drug that can treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) It acts on the brain to alter levels of chemicals that have an effect on behavior. Typically, patients with ADHD take daily doses of the drug in capsule form.

Short attention spans and an inclination toward hyperactive behavior are hallmarks of ADHD. Both children and adults can suffer from the condition, which does not have a permanent cure as of 2011. Atomoxetine HCl is one form of medication that people with ADHD can take daily to control the unwanted symptoms of the condition.

Scientists tend to refer to specific forms of molecules by their structure. In the case of Atomoxetine HCl, the HCl part simply refers to the presence of a structural portion of the molecule that contains both hydrogen and chlorine atoms. In the body the drug appears to alter the levels of chemical activity in the brain, but scientists do not know exactly how it works. In people without medical problems, these brain chemicals interact with each other and the brain normally and thus cause normal behavior patterns. People with ADHD have brain chemistry that promotes hyperactivity and other related symptoms.

Both kids and adults are suitable patients for atomoxetine HCl, although the drug does carry a risk of serious side effects. In teenagers and younger children, daily doses of the medication can increase the chance of suicidal thoughts. Other potential side effects include gastrointestinal problems, unusual sensations in arms and legs, and a loss of weight. The drug can also cause hallucinations, seizures and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.

Kids with existing heart problems are also at risk of death from the drug. Normal growth in children may also become stunted if a child takes the medication while growing. A patient and a doctor have to take these risks into account when deciding whether or not to take the drug, and weigh the potential benefits to everyday life against the dangers.

A typical dose of the drug for a patient is one capsule every morning, but some patients may need to take another capsule later in the day. A doctor usually gives a new patient a low dose and raises it if the symptoms of the ADHD do not subside. The medication can take up to a month to work efficiently for patients, but as the drug is not a permanent cure, patients need to keep taking the medicine to maintain results.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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