What is Lisdexamfetamine?

Debra Durkee

Lisdexamfetamine is the generic name of a medication used as part of a treatment plan for individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has been shown to be effective in both children over six and in adults. The medication is typically administered in capsule form.

Lisdexamfetamine is used to treat ADHD.
Lisdexamfetamine is used to treat ADHD.

The medication effects the levels of various chemicals in the brain to help maintain balance. It can raise the levels of some chemicals or lower others and is considered a central nervous system stimulant. This balancing of chemicals allows individuals who are taking it to concentrate better and also gives them better control over their actions. Most medical professionals will begin the individual on a low dose of the medication and gradually increase it until reaching desired levels and maximum results. This helps minimize side effects and allows the body an easier adjustment to the effects of the medication.

As the medication can be addictive, many health professionals will require an individual to answer questions about his or her family history before it is prescribed. Those with a family history of alcoholism or drug abuse might not be issued a prescription for lisdexamfetamine. A family history of heart disease also may preclude a doctor from prescribing it. In some cases, a medical professional may also request regular monitoring of blood pressure and heartbeat while a patient is on the medication; there have been cases wherein administration of lisdexamfetamine has caused heart failure and death in both young and adult patients.

Even with a gradual increase in the dosage, lisdexamfetamine may cause a number of side effects. Mild side effects include gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, accompanied by a loss of appetite and related weight loss. Some individuals may also have changes in their sleep patterns; lisdexamfetamine can cause both insomnia and drowsiness. Most medical professionals will recommend that an individual not take the medication when he knows he will have to drive or stay awake until it's clear how it will impact his mental alertness.

There are also a number of more serious side effects associated with lisdexamfetamine. It interferes with the chemicals in the brain, many of which are associated with the mental health. Side effects can include the manifestation of aggression, mood swings, hallucinations and difficulty speaking and communicating. Others may develop swelling in the face or extremities, numbness in the extremities, and vision problems. Any of these side effects should be attended to by a medical professional.

When administered to children, many medical professionals will monitor the child's growth processes and maturity. It is also possible to overdose on lisdexamfetamine, so administration to a child should be overseen by an adult. Symptoms of an overdose are similar to severe side effects.

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