Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can stem from thyroid disorders, liver or pancreatic problems, adrenal gland abnormalities, or insufficient diet.
Hyper or hypothyroidism is an imbalance in metabolism that occurs from an overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones. This imbalance may cause a variety of behaviors and may affect all body functions.
Some mild forms of genetic disorders can go unnoticed in children and display some of the same symptoms of ADHD. Mild forms of Turner's syndrome, sickle-cell anemia, and Fragile X syndrome are some examples. Almost any genetic disorder can cause hyperactivity or other behavior problems, even if the disorder isn't normally linked to such problems. Many genetic diseases disrupt brain functions directly, through a variety of paths. A simple blood test can rule out genetic disorders.
A commonly overlooked cause of ADHD behavior is the absence seizure. During an absence seizure, the brain's normal activity shuts down. The child stares blankly, sometimes rotates his eyes upward, and occasionally blinks or jerks repetitively, he drops objects from his hand, and there may be some mild involuntary movements known as automatisms. The attack lasts for a few seconds and then it is over as rapidly as it begins. If these attacks occur dozens of times each day, they can interfere with a child's school performance and be confused by parents and teachers with daydreaming.
Post-traumatic subclinical seizure disorder causes episodic temper explosions. These fits of temper come out of the blue for no reason. Some of these seizures can be too subtle to detect without a twenty-four-hour electroencephalogram (EEG).
Temporal lobe seizures can cause inappropriate behavior. That's why conducting brain scans is a must when trying to figure out behavior problems.
Head injuries, such as post-concussion syndrome, have symptoms that include irritability, mood swings, memory problems, depression, and sleeping problems.
Some spinal problems can cause ADHD behavior because, if the spine is not connected to the brain properly, nerves from the spinal cord can give the brain all of signals at once making a child rambunctious and full of energy.
Some drugs (both prescription and illegal) can cause the brain to atrophy, leading to disturbed cognition and behavior. If your child routinely takes prescription or over-the-counter medications for asthma, hay fever, allergies, headaches, or any other condition, consider the possibility that the drugs are causing or contributing to behavior problems.
Intentionally or unintentionally sniffing materials such as modeling glue or other household product.
Other possible causes of ADHD behavior are:
Malnutrition or improper diet
Lack of exercise
Lack of sleep
Viral or bacterial infections
Early-stage brain tumors
Although no chemical imbalance has ever been proven, health professionals prescribe psychostimulant medication (such as Ritalin, Strattera, Adderall) as the primary treatment in correcting the 'chemical imbalance'. In 2000, more than 19 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs were filled, a 72% increase since 1995.
However, with the known side effects of these drugs and without knowledge or evidence of long-term results on growth and development, is medication really the best option?
However, these drugs are not without serious risk. Between the years of 1990-2000, over 569 children were hospitalized, 38 of them were life-threatening hospitalizations, and 186 died from Ritalin.
It is well known that psychostimulants have abuse potential. Very high doses of psychostimulants, particularly of amphetamines, may cause central nervous system damage, cardiovascular damage, and hypertension. In addition, high doses have been associated with compulsive behaviors and, in certain vulnerable individuals, movement disorders. There is a rare percentage of children and adults treated at high doses who have hallucinogenic responses. Drugs used for ADHD other than psychostimulants have their own adverse reactions: tricyclic antidepressants may induce cardiac arrhythmias, bupropion at high doses can cause seizures, and pemoline is associated with liver damage. -- Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, National Institute of Health
Many parents do not realize that if their child takes Ritalin or other psychostimulant medication past the age of 12, according to the 1999 Military Recruitment Manual, that child may not join the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, or National Guard until after a doctor has signed a paper stating that the person has been off the medication for four years.
Also, if a child uses Ritalin or other psychostimulant medication, the state or federal government cannot hire him or her if the job involves state secrets or national security, because that child is a Class 2 drug user.
If a child uses Ritalin or other psychostimulant medication, some insurance companies will turn down that child for being a Class 2 drug user, and may even turn down the entire family. Other health insurance companies will raise rates and write in a pre-existing condition clause, excluding some coverage for the ADD/ADHD child.
Psychostimulant medication are drugs that are commonly abused. Some unprescribed users of Adderall, an amphetamine, and methylphenidate, more widely known as Ritalin, are adults. But experts say many are young people, as young as 11, who get the drugs from peers being treated for ADD. Users often crush the pills and snort them to get a cocaine-like rush, as these drugs and cocaine have more similarities than differences.
Students who take ADD/ADHD medication are often asked to sell or trade their drugs, and many know students who have given away or sold their medication.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a study of students in Wisconsin and Minnesota showed 34% of ADHD youth, ages 11-18, report being approached to sell or trade their medicines, such as Ritalin.
There are so many concerns surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of ADD/ADHD that parents must be knowledgeable and cautious. It is usually the school that approaches parents to have an assessment for ADD/ADHD and parents often feel pressured in having the traditional ************** to 'correct' their child's behavior.
What should parents do if the school identifies a child with potentially having ADD/ADHD?
Have the school put their concerns and directions in writing. Hold them accountable.
If the school tells you that your child needs medication to control his or her behavior, remind them that medical help does not necessarily mean taking medication.
If you are told to sign a release for your child's medical records, ask to see that law in writing.