Thursday, 26 November 2015

ADHD in Children: FAQ Part 3

- What causes ADHD? 

The exact causes of ADHD are still not fully understood. However, it is likely to be due to a number of factors coming together. We know that ADHD can be inherited and that the genes controlling the chemicals or neurotransmitters in the brain are different in those with ADHD.

- What are common symptoms that parents can look for to identify that their child has ADHD? 

There are two main domains of symptoms; attention deficits and hyperactivity. The main symptom is difficulty in paying attention. A child with ADHD may have problems listening and following instructions, finishing tasks, is forgetful and easily loses his belongings. He distractible, tend to daydream and make careless mistakes. He will avoid activities that require sustained concentration or that might be boring. In the hyperactivity domain, he is restless and cannot sit still. He may run and climb on things constantly and when seated, may tend to squirm and fidget. The ADHD child is always on the go, will talk excessively and cannot play quietly.

- What are the most effective ways to treat patients between the ages of 3 and 10? 

Most of the time, we only start to diagnose ADHD for children who are 5 and above. This is because, unless very severe, inattention and hyperactivity can be quite common in children 3-5 and may improve naturally as they mature. ADHD can be treated with medications. Currently, two main types of medications are available, stimulants and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors. They help ADHD by increasing the level of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain called dopamine and norepinephrine. Behavioural modifications and therapy are also useful treatments and are always given alongside medications.

- Many proponents of ‘food as medicine’ claim that ADHD symptoms can be controlled through a change in dietary habits – how much truth is there to this claim? 

There has not been any proof about these claims and studies done have consistently shown that dietary changes have no bearing on ADHD symptoms. The exception to this is fish oil which has shown to improve attention deficits symptoms and decrease hyperactivity in some cases.