What You Need To Know About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD In 2018

What You Need To Know About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD In 2018

What Is ADHD?

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).

Is There A Cure For ADHD?

There is no cure for ADHD, but different treatments can help improve a child's symptoms and behavior.

What Are The Symptoms Of ADHD?

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Children with ADHD have one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Increased activity, also called "hyperactivity" – A child might have trouble sitting still or playing quietly.
  2. Poor decision-making – A child might interrupt others or do things without thinking them through.
  3. Trouble paying attention – A child might be forgetful, lose things, or have trouble finishing a project.

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.

Is There A Test For ADHD?

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:

  1. Are seen in more than one place, for example, at home and in school
  2. Last at least 6 months
  3. Start before age 12
  4. Affect his or her friendships or school work

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.

Is ADHD A Condition That needs To Be Treated?

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.

How Is ADHD Treated?

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:

  1. Medicines – Doctors can prescribe different medicines to help children pay attention and concentrate better. ADHD medicines are often very effective at improving the condition, but they can cause side effects. Tell your doctor if your child has any problems while taking ADHD medicine. Some children need to try more than one medicine to find the one that is right for them.
  2. Behavior treatment – You might find that you can improve your child's behavior by making changes at home. For instance, you can make a checklist for your child to use every morning so that he or she remembers what to do. Or you can have your child keep homework in the same place so he or she doesn't lose it.
  3. Changes at school – Teachers can make changes in the classroom to help children with ADHD do better in school. For example, a teacher might write down what the homework is every day so the child does not forget. Or a teacher might allow a child to have extra time to finish school work. Parents should work with the teacher and school to create a "school plan" that is right for their child. Keep in mind that a school plan might need to change over time as a child gets older or if symptoms change.
  4. Some children with ADHD have other problems, too. These can include problems with learning, anxiety, or trouble sleeping. It's important to work with your child's doctor to treat these problems if needed.

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.

What Are The Medicines Used To Treat ADHD?

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.

  1. Methylphenidate (sample brand names: Ritalin, Methylin) – These are stimulant medicines and are given as a tablet, capsule, or liquid. They come in different formulas that work on the body in different ways. Short-acting formulas are usually started with 1 dose per day. They later go up to 2 doses per day. Long-acting formulas are usually taken 1 time per day. A child can also get a methylphenidate patch (brand name: Daytrana). The child wears the patch on the skin for up to 9 hours per day.
  2. Amphetamines (sample brand names: Dexedrine, Adderall, Vyvanse) – These are different types of stimulant medicines that also come in short-acting and long-acting formulas.
  3. Atomoxetine (brand name: Strattera) – This is a non-stimulant medicine that a child can take if he or she should not take stimulants. Atomoxetine comes as a capsule that is usually taken 1 or 2 times per day.

What Do ADHD Medicines Do?

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.

Does My Child Need Medicine For ADHD?

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.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

How Soon Will I Notice A Change In My Child's Behavior?

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.

What If My Child Needs To Take ADHD Medicine At School?

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.

What If My Child Has Side Effects?

Some of the most common side effects include:

  1. Not feeling hungry
  2. Trouble sleeping
  3. Weight loss

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.

Can Adults Be Diagnosed With ADHD?

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.

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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.

Resources

Video Interviews With Mental Health Experts

National Institute of Mental Health

Attention Deficit Disorder Association ADDA


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