ADHD is a condition that can make it hard to sit still, pay attention, or make good decisions. ADHD often begins in childhood. ADHD can cause a child to have trouble in school, at home, or with friends. ADHD is more common in boys than girls. ADHD stands for "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." Some people call it just ADD (attention deficit disorder).
There is no cure for ADHD, but different treatments can help improve a child's symptoms and behavior.
Children with ADHD have one or more of the following symptoms:
Symptoms often begin by the time a child is 4 years old and can change over time. Children often continue to have symptoms as teenagers or adults.
No. There is no test. If you suspect your child has ADHD, talk to your doctor or nurse. He or she will ask about your child's symptoms and behavior at home and at school. To find out about your child's behavior at school, you will need to ask his or her teacher.
A doctor can make a diagnosis of ADHD only if a child's symptoms:
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to ADHD. For example, children who have trouble learning to read can also have a tough time in school. Your doctor or nurse will try to figure out what is causing your child's symptoms. But this might involve a few visits to the doctor.
Most doctors recommend that ADHD be treated. Children with untreated ADHD are more likely than children whose ADHD is treated to have a hard time in school, become depressed, or have accidents.
ADHD can be treated in different ways. Treatment can improve symptoms and help children do better at school, at home, and with friends. Children with ADHD might have one or more of the following treatments:
Sometimes, this can even help improve ADHD symptoms. You might hear or read about treatments for ADHD that include things like special vitamins or diets. Experts do not know if these help improve symptoms. Check with a doctor before trying any of these treatments.
There are 2 main kinds of medicines to treat ADHD: stimulants and non stimulants. Stimulants work faster and cost less than nonstimulants. But some children get side effect from stimulants, so they cannot take them. Plus, children with certain medical problems should not take stimulants.
Your doctor or nurse will work with you to choose the safest medicine for your child.
These medicines help children with ADHD pay attention and concentrate better. The most common medicines to treat ADHD are called "stimulants." Stimulants do not cause children to be more active or excited. Instead, these medicines help different parts of the brain to work together.
Some parents wonder whether their child needs medicine for ADHD. It is something that all parents need to discuss with their child's doctor. But it's important to know that many studies show that ADHD medicines are very good at helping children to pay attention and concentrate better.
The immediate-release stimulants usually start to work in 30 to 40 minutes. But doctors often start children on a low dose, which might be too small to make a difference in your child's behavior. Your child's nurse or doctor will tell you if you should give your child a higher dose.
If your child takes atomoxetine, it will probably take at least 1 week before you notice changes in your child's behavior.
If your child needs to take medicine at school, you should give your child's school nurse or faculty member a separate bottle of your child's medicine. That way, the person can give your child a dose at the right time. Do not let your child keep the medicine in his or her school bag or desk.
Some of the most common side effects include:
Most of these side effects are mild and go away after a few weeks. Some can be avoided by changing the way the medicine is given. Rarely, ADHD medicines can have more serious side effects. Your child's doctor or nurse will discuss these with you before your child starts the medicine.
For more detailed information about your medicines, ask your doctor or nurse for the patient hand-out from Lexicomp. The Lexicomp handouts explain how to use and store your medicines. They also list possible side effects and warn you if your medicines should not be taken with certain other medicines or foods.
Yes. ADHD can run in families. Some adults figure out that they have ADHD only after their child is diagnosed with it. For example, a man might see that he has the same symptoms as his son. ADHD can also cause adults to have trouble at work or with relationships.
If you are an adult and suspect that you have ADHD, talk with your doctor or nurse about treatment. Some people also find it helpful to talk to a counselor or go to a self-help group to learn ways to manage symptoms.
This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or lifestyle choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.