HEALTH MATTERS: Putting the brakes on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

February 2005 
Volume 35  Number 2
Pages 12 - 13
  PDF Version Available!


  • Falling into a pattern

  • Is it ADHD or not?

  • Treating ADHD

  • Nursing considerations



    ATTENTION-DEFICIT/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which in the United States affects perhaps 3% to 7% of young school-age children and 4% of all adults, is the most common neurobehavioral disorder diagnosed in school-age children. Although most people associate ADHD with hyperactive behavior, that's only part of the picture. Some patients (especially girls) with ADHD have difficulty concentrating but don't display motor hyperactivity. Although more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD, research indicates that the incidence may be nearly equal between the sexes.

    Considered a chronic health condition, ADHD interferes with learning ability and personal relationships. Although many people with ADHD have IQs in the superior or above-average range, they may have problems with short-term memory or clarity of thought. Fortunately, ADHD can be treated. Here I'll discuss how you can recognize signs and symptoms and help your patient and his parents find treatment that works for him.

    Falling into a pattern

    By definition, ADHD is a pattern of persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness that causes significant impairment in functioning. Children with ADHD may behave aggressively or eccentrically, causing peers to reject them. They may have few friends and low self-esteem. Older children and adults may fail to complete school or hold a job, or have troubled personal relationships and substance abuse problems. People with ADHD are more likely to smoke tobacco (and less likely to quit) because nicotine is a stimulant that paradoxically relieves ADHD symptoms.

    Although the cause of ADHD is unknown, research has identified several characteristic neurophysiologic abnormalities, ...

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