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Some factors can counteract kids’ ADHD medication

Dariush Shafa

OWENSBORO, Ky. — It was almost like the medication wasn’t working.

At first, Jason Cunningham and his wife, Tracy, resisted the thought of medicating Jason’s two sons, Christopher and Patrick, for their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But once they tried it and saw the difference it made, they were sold.

But occasionally, it was like the medication was taking a day off.

“He had a really bad day,” Tracy Cunningham said, talking about Patrick. “He just got in trouble all day long.”

Patrick had been sick with a cold, and to help relieve his symptoms he’d been given a cold medication that contained pseudoephedrine. As it turns out, pseudoephedrine is a medication that cancels out the effects of the ADHD medication that Christopher and Patrick take.

“It was just plain old children’s cold medicine, but it was horrible,” Jason Cunningham said. “They were the same kids that three years ago were getting yelled at.”

As it turns out, the pseudoephedrine was just one factor. Other things the boys were taking, eating or drinking such as vitamin C and allergy medication, were playing a role too.

Dr. Oluwole “Wally” Olusola, an Owensboro psychiatrist who has treated Jason and Patrick Cunningham for their ADHD, said it highlights a need for parents to be informed.

“If you don’t know [what medication interactions are possible], you’re definitely going to have an unexpected effect from those medications,” Olusola said. “There’s a lot of things parents should be aware of.”

Olusola said it’s important for parents to avoid these types of interactions, or just to have their children treated for ADHD. Without treatment, he said, the children are not living up to their true potential.

“A lot of times parents don’t want their child treated for ADHD, but it’s a real disease,” Olusola said. “The child that has the mind to get a master’s degree or become a doctor or lawyer ends up getting shortchanged and barely graduating high school.”

Olusola said the smart thing to do is to be informed.

“Parents should, depending on which medication their child is on, obtain from the pharmacy a list of foods or medications which will counteract the medication in a negative way,” Olusola said.

The Cunninghams agree that it’s important to take charge and be responsible and knowledgeable.

“I think parents need to pay a bit more attention to their [child’s medications],” Tracy Cunningham said. “Anything they’re taking, we’re looking it up.”

Most of all, Jason Cunningham said, it’s not just about the medication.

“You don’t just throw drugs out there and say, ‘Fix your kids,’” he said.

He also said it should be a reminder to parents that being informed about medication is important in any circumstance, not just for children with ADHD.

“We want people to know and find out,” Jason Cunningham said. “It might be something minor, and in this case it was. My kids were getting in a little bit of trouble at school.”

(The Owensboro, Ky., Messenger-Inquirer)