What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder with onset in childhood, and its most prominent symptoms include inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsiveness.

Symptoms:

The following are the major symptoms of ADHD: 

• Inattention: The person affected by ADHD would either not be interested in something that he needs to focus on, or he may not be able to sustain his attention for long enough.

• Hyperactivity: A person suffering from ADHD would always appear to be restless; they would always appear to be fidgety irrespective of their age.

They will also show signs of restlessness when they sit down anywhere for more than two minutes.

• Impulsiveness: The person with ADHD will be impulsive. They would tend to act without thinking of the consequences, the adverse impact it may have on others or them.

Symptoms appear usually before age 12 and can sometimes persist into adulthood; although some people outgrow certain symptoms as they age. Symptoms in children typically get better with age, but adults continue to suffer from ADHD and require treatment for their symptoms.

Diagnosis:

The following are the criteria for diagnosis of ADHD: 

1) Six or more symptoms of either hyperactivity-impulsivity or inattention that cause significant impairment and are present for at least 6 months (aged between 4–17).

2) Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 12.

3) Symptoms causing significant impairment were not better explained by another mental disorder.

4) Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school/work and home).

5) There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

6) If the individual has had an earlier diagnosis of Conduct Disorder, there should be no current diagnosis of it.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

(ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental condition with onset in childhood, characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior that is not appropriate for a person’s age. These symptoms lead to problems functioning in everyday life, academic difficulties, and/or problems getting along with other people.

Causes:

Though the exact causes of ADHD are unclear, research supports the idea that genetics and environmental factors combine to play a role in its development. ADHD tends to run in families; if one twin has it, there is an 85% chance that the other will also be diagnosed with it at some point. Children who have low birth weights or suffer from malnutrition early in life tend to be more likely than others to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Alcohol intake during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol effects; these effects include physical, behavioral, cognitive, and/or learning disabilities which may emerge later in life. Some studies have reported that children exposed to lead or other environmental poisons, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged, may develop ADHD-like symptoms. Other proposed causes include brain injury and general malnutrition.

Symptoms:

People with ADHD tend to be distractible, impatient, impulsive, and restless. Symptoms may include: 

• Inattention – difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things

• Hyperactivity – fidgeting and squirming when seated; feeling restless and needing to move around constantly; inability to stay seated long enough to complete tasks

• Impulsiveness – blurting out answers before questions have been completed; having trouble waiting their turn; intruding on others’ conversations or games

• Difficulty getting along with others – frequent conflicts with siblings, classmates, and/or co-workers

• Learning difficulties – problems understanding information that is taught; reading problems; math calculation problems ADHD cannot be identified by anyone test. Instead, it’s based on a pattern of symptoms over time that causes problems in different settings (e.g., at school, home or work).

Treatment:

Symptoms can be managed to some degree with medications (such as stimulants) and behavior therapy. Medications are available for children, teens, and adults. Other treatments may help manage some of the symptoms associated with ADHD which will vary depending upon the age of the person diagnosed with ADHD, other existing health conditions, and other factors; however, there is no cure for ADHD.

ADHD is a chronic condition with no cure, but it can be managed with proper treatment through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Treatment of ADHD may include behavioral interventions to help reinforce positive or desired behaviors; medications to control symptoms such as impulsivity and hyperactivity; tutoring for academic problems; and counseling for social deficits.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that about 80 percent of children on stimulant medications continue to take them into adulthood. even though most people with ADHD will outgrow their symptoms by adolescence without the need for medication after adolescence, up to 83% of children will still meet criteria at 8 years old and 65% at 16 years old after which the prevalence rates off as adults receive greater diagnostic attention.

ADHD has a strong neuro-genetic component that contributes to about 75% of the variability in symptoms. The specific genes involved have not been identified, but multiple genes appear related to susceptibility.

As ADHD is known to occur with a substantially higher incidence amongst people exposed to certain nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy the respective environmental factors could either be maternal dietary deficiencies or direct nutrient blocking effects of toxins such as lead and mercury on key prenatal processes (since these metals are confirmed significant causes of defected neurodevelopment).

An American study found nearly 30 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD had experienced at least one head injury requiring hospitalization before they turned eight; more than half of those injuries occurred within two years of diagnosis. Some research suggests that low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) may contribute to ADHD, especially in young children.

In a minority of children, reactions to food colorings and/or artificial flavorings appear linked to hyperactivity; among the most common offenders are Red #40 and Yellow #5. These agents may be present in processed foods or drinks or as separate ingredients such as certain brands of soft drinks, candy, or cake icing.

Some people with ADHD may need to follow a modified diet that avoids problematic substances. This approach must be evaluated by an appropriate professional however before it is implemented because some of these chemicals may be essential for proper nutrition.

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