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Doctors, Parents Should Collaborate to Treat ADHD

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) has been on the rise over the past decade. ADHD causes inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior or a combination of all three. It is one of the most common childhood disorders in this country and can continue into adolescence and adulthood.CauseADHD is more common in boys than girls and affects about 3 to 5 percent of school aged children, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is still not clear what causes the disorder. It seems to run in families and begins early in life as the brain is developing. Children with ADHD lack the neurological controls needed for the brain's command center to function properly. A lack of certain neurotransmitters keep the brain from telling the child to stay focused. Because the cause is still unknown, there are no preventative measures to take.SymptomsThere are three main symptoms of ADHD: lack of attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. A child may suffer from one, two or a combination of all three symptoms. Signs of inattentiveness can include being easily distracted and making careless mistakes in school. A hyperactive child may fidget with his hands and leave his or her seat unexpectedly. Interrupting others and blurting out answers to unfinished questions can be signs of impulsive behavior.DiagnosisDiagnosing ADHD can be tricky. Difficult children can easily be mistaken for having the disorder while others that actually do suffer are never diagnosed. At times, mood problems and learning styles are overlooked. If a child is suspected of having ADHD, he or she should be evaluated by a doctor. That is the only way to be certain that the child has ADHD.TreatmentTreating ADHD must be a joint effort among parents, the health care provider, and the child. Treatments include behavior therapy and medications. Always consult with a physician before starting a child on medications. There are several medications that can be taken alone or in combination with one another. Most medications are stimulants that help calm people with the disorder. Some of the better known drugs include Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Parents and doctors should make decisions together about  medication. Behavior therapy can include talk therapy with both the family and child to help work out problems. There are many support groups that can help parents make healthy choices for their child. Other ways to help include: communicate clearly with the child's teacher, limit distractions, have the child avoid sugary foods and ensure enough sleep. Treating ADHD varies with each child, and it is important to understand that what might work for one child might not necessarily yield the same results in another.It's important to identify ADHD as early as possible and work on treatments with a health care provider. This will help avoid future problems in school and at home. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health websites.