Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood
disorders, with symptoms such as difficulty staying focused and paying attention,
difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. The average age of onset
is seven years old. ADHD can continue through adolescence and adulthood and
affects 9% of American children age 13 to 18 years old. Boys are at four times
greater risk than girls. ADHD also affects about 4% of American adults age 18
years and older. Persons with ADHD may be predominantly inattentive or both
hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive.
The causes of ADHD are not well understood, but many studies suggest that genes
play a significant role. Other factors, including premature birth, environmental
factors such as exposure to lead, exposures in utero from the use of cocaine, alcohol,
and smoking during pregnancy, brain injuries, delayed brain development,
nutrition, and the social environment, might contribute to ADHD. Sugar does not
cause ADHD or make symptoms worse. A possible link between ADHD and the
consumption of certain food additives such as artificial colors or preservatives has
long been suspected, but more research is needed to establish this as a causal relationship.
The impulsivity of teens with ADHD can lead to increases in behaviors that are risky
and dangerous to health. Teenagers with ADHD get three times as many speeding
tickets and are four times more likely to be involved in a car accident than their
non-ADHD affected peers. Because long-term deleterious consequences for work
performance and social relationships in adulthood are very important, it is urgent to
identify ADHD and intervene as early as possible.
Medication is the primary treatment modality for ADHD. It is combined with parenting
interventions and psychotherapy for the consequences of ADHD, such as
low self-esteem. Two types of medication are approved by the FDA for treatment
of ADHD, stimulants (amphetamines and methyphenidate), and nonstimulants (
atomoxetine, clonidine, and guanfacine). Stimulant medications help reduce the
frequency or severity of ADHD symptoms and improve cognitive functioning for
many people. They may depress appetite, make sleep difficult, and rarely, stimulants
cause more serious side effects such as raising blood pressure and heart rate.
For some patients with ADHD, an alternative non-stimulant medication, such as
guanfacine, is prescribed for its calming effect on anxious/traumatized children.
Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.