Add Attention Deficit Disorder

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Attention deficit disorder, which is also called ADD, is a disorder in which aperson shows a certain pattern of behavior over time. This pattern includesinattention and impulsivity. Attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, adds hyperactivity to theother behaviors.

What is going on in the body?

In people who have ADD, the brain areas that control attention useless glucose than the brains of other people use. This indicates that the areasare less active. The lower activity level seems to cause inattention. No oneknows for sure why these brain areas are less active.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

No one knows the exact cause of ADD. Most experts believe that thefollowing factors may play a role in causing ADD and ADHD:

  • environmental toxins, such as lead
  • genetics
  • smoking or alcohol use by the mother duringpregnancy
  • use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, by the mother during pregnancy
  • ADD is thought to affect 5% to 10% of school-age children. Boysare 10 times more likely than girls to be affected by ADD.

    Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

    People who have ADD show signs of inattention, including thefollowing:

  • being easily distracted by sights, sounds, and other stimuli
  • losing or forgetting tools and materials needed for a job
  • making careless mistakes because of poor attention to details
  • Someone who has ADHD may also show signs of impulsivity andhyperactivity, such as:

  • feeling restless much of the time
  • fidgeting or squirming
  • having trouble waiting in line
  • interrupting while another person is speaking
  • moving around when quiet behavior is expected
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of ADD and ADHD begins with a medical history andphysical exam. The healthcare provider will look for behaviors that are typicalof ADD. In order to diagnose ADD, the provider must determine that thebehaviors have the following characteristics:

  • are more frequent or severe than in other people of the same age group
  • create significant disability in at least two of the following areas:school, home, work, or social settings
  • have continued for at least 6 months
  • started early in life, before age 7
  • The healthcare provider may order some of the followingtests to rule out other disorders:

  • allergy tests
  • blood and urine tests
  • cranial CT scan
  • cranial MRI
  • Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    Many times, ADD and ADHD cannot be prevented. However, thesemeasures may be helpful:

  • avoiding pregnancy risk factors, such as drugs, alcohol, and smoking
  • obtaining good prenatal care beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • taking steps to avoid leadpoisoning in the environment
  • What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    Without effective treatment, ADD and ADHD can cause seriousproblems at school, home, work, and in social settings.

    What are the risks to others?

    ADD is not contagious and poses no risk to others. There may be agenetic component to the disorder.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    Treatment for ADHD usually involves medicine along with one ormore other strategies. The most common medicine for ADHD is a stimulant calledmethylphenidate. This medicine is known as Ritalin, Concerta, or Metadate.Other medicines used to treat ADHD include the following:

  • amphetamines, such as Adderall, Dexedrine, or Dextrostat
  • antidepressants, such as desipramine or bupropion
  • other stimulants, such as pemoline, or Cylert
  • medicines normally used to treat high blood pressure, such asclonidine
  • Medicines are often used together with other treatment strategies,such as:

  • anxiety \ \ depression \ \eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia \ \ alcohol and drug abuse problems\ cognitive behavioraltherapy
  • emotional counseling
  • practical support for activities of daily living
  • psychotherapy
  • social skills training for the individual
  • stress managementtraining
  • support groups
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects from medicine can include the following:

  • headache
  • involuntary muscle movements
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes as medicine wears off
  • sleep disorders
  • weight managementproblems
  • A person who is receiving any form of therapy may show an initial increase innegative behavior. This may last until new behaviors become routine.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    Treatment and monitoring of ADD and ADHD are lifelong.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcareprovider.

    Article type: xmedgeneral