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Children and teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often seem restless, have trouble concentrating, and may act very impulsively.
The number of children diagnosed with ADHD is growing by the day, and it can leave the parents and teachers with their hands in their hair.
The symptoms of ADHD can become less prominent with age, as people learn to manage them. But many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience some of the problems and symptoms their entire lives.
What are the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
The symptoms of ADHD can be split into 2 main types of behavioural problems namely: inattentiveness and hyperactivity & impulsiveness.
In most cases, a child or teen suffering from ADHD will have symptoms from both of these categories.
The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are normally very noticeable and easy to spot, and in most cases, they can be picked up at ages as early as 4 years old.
Many times, the problem is first noticed at school where there are many distractions and the teacher notices that the child struggles to pay attention to the work.
But let’s dive into the symptoms of ADHD under the 2 categories:
Inattentiveness (being absent-minded) can be seen by the following symptoms:
- Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
- Making careless mistakes (In schoolwork or homework)
- Appearing forgetful or often losing/misplacing things
- Being unable to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks
- Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
- Constantly changing from one activity or task to another
- Finding it difficult to organise tasks
2. Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
The common signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness include:
- Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
- Constantly fidgeting
- Not being able to concentrate on tasks
- Excessive physical movement and the need to constantly be active
- Excessive talking
- Not being able to wait their turn
- Acting without thinking
- Interrupting conversations
- Little- or no sense of danger
These symptoms can lead to significant problems for children and teens, such as not achieving their potential in school, having difficulty interacting socially with other children or with adults, and struggling with discipline.
Other conditions that may result from ADHD in children and teenagers
Although it is not always the case, some children may also develop other problems or conditions alongside ADHD, such as:
Anxiety Disorder –
This causes children to worry and be nervous much of the time. It may also include physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and dizziness.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) –
This can be identified by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers.
Conduct Disorder –
Tendency towards highly antisocial behaviour, such as stealing, fighting, vandalism, and harming people or animals.
Most people do not realise that ADHD can lead to depression in children and teenagers.
Sleep Problems –
Children may find it difficult to fall asleep at night, resulting in irregular sleeping patterns.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) –
This affects social interaction, communication, interests, and behaviour.
A condition that affects the brain and causes regular and repeated fits or seizures.
Tourette’s Syndrome –
This condition affects the nervous system, characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements referred to as “tics”.
Learning Difficulties –
Such as dyslexia, and simply having difficulty focusing on studies.
What causes ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be caused by different factors, which include genetics, brain function and structure, and lifestyle factors as discussed in more detail below.
ADHD can be hereditary, thus it can carry over from one generation to the next.
Brain function and structure –
While the data on this is not 100% clear yet, studies do seem to point that this could be a contributing factor.
Studies involving brain scans have suggested that certain areas of the brain may be smaller in people with ADHD, whereas other areas may be larger when compared to people without ADHD.
Studies have also suggested that people with ADHD may have an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain, or that these chemicals may function differently than in individuals who do not have ADHD.
Lifestyle Factors –
Lifestyle factors are the biggest cause of ADHD in children and teenagers. But the good news is, these can be controlled.
There are different lifestyle factors that can all play a massive role in the development of ADHD in children. The main lifestyle factors that have the biggest effect are an unbalanced diet, and lack of exercise.
Unbalanced diet –
These days there is so much refined sugar and carbohydrates in the food we eat that it seems almost impossible to avoid it. Many of these sugars are also hidden in highly processed food under fancy, hard-to-pronounce names and we eat or drink them without even knowing it – and worse, we give them to our children!
These foods cause the blood sugar levels to constantly see-saw up and down, which seems to have a direct link to ADHD. While it may not be the root cause of the problem, it is most likely the cause of the symptoms becoming much worse and much more difficult to manage than they should be.
Here are only a few highly processed food and ingredients that are common triggers and will help give a basic idea of what to avoid:
- Artificial food colouring
- Potato crisps
- Chocolate bars (But 80% cocoa without sugar added is OK and even helpful due to antioxidants)
- Fast food (McDonald’s, KFC, etc)
- Pies and pastries
- Energy drinks
- Soft drinks
Lack of exercise –
It is no secret that a large percentage of children and teenagers have become less active than in the past. Couple this with the fact that most of their diets consist largely of high-calorie food that contains way more energy than healthy foods do, it makes it extremely difficult to burn the calories they ingest.
Apart from causing a massive boom in child-obesity, it is also increasing the severity and the occurrence of ADHD symptoms in children and teens.
How is ADHD in children and teenagers diagnosed?
Diagnosing ADHD in children depends on a set of strict criteria. To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must have 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness or 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must also have:
- Been displaying symptoms continuously for at least 6 months.
- Started to show symptoms before the age of 12.
- Been showing symptoms in at least 2 different settings – for example, at home, and at school, to rule out the possibility that the behaviour is just a reaction to certain teachers or to parental control.
- Symptoms that make their lives considerably more difficult on a social, academic, or occupational level.
- Symptoms that are not just part of a developmental disorder or difficult phase and are not better accounted for by another condition.
How can ADHD be treated and managed?
Since genetics and brain function & structure cannot be changed, the best way to treat and manage ADHD is by making positive lifestyle changes.
As mentioned, refined sugar and carbohydrates are the biggest culprits when it comes to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as they mess with the blood sugar levels, which have a direct effect on the severity of symptoms and difficulty managing it.
That is why it is important to keep these to a minimum and steer clear of highly processed foods.
Opt for fresh whole foods, and make sure that carbohydrates come from good, true low-GI sources and that they are taken alongside enough fibre to ensure the body absorbs it with the smallest blood sugar change possible.
The Manna Low GI Shake is an excellent option as a snack or meal replacement as it contains plenty of fibre, all the needed nutrients, and it stabilizes the blood sugar levels through the means of a superfood called Mesquite.
Using the right natural supplements means that you can manage and treat ADHD without any side effects – unlike the chemical medications that have severe side effects.
It is advised that you give your child or teen the following supplements in order to help manage their ADHD at the optimum level:
> Fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids)
Helps boost brain power as well as increasing serotonin and dopamine while reducing stress.
> Zinc –
Helps improve the immune system, and helps the body produce proteins that support cell membrane growth.
> Magnesium –
Magnesium deficiency is common among children with ADHD and should therefore be supplemented to ensure they get enough.
> Probiotics –
Making sure that gut health is up to standard is crucial, that is why you should always ensure that your children take good probiotics and look after their gut health. Check out the Manna Digestive Health Protocol for the best way to reset your gut health and make sure it is up to standard.
> Manna Blood Sugar Support –
As mentioned, out-of-control blood sugar is one of the main causes of uncontrolled ADHD symptoms.
This happens due to the sugar levels that spike up and then crash down. When it goes up, it puts the body on a “sugar high” and concentration becomes even more difficult than it already is. When it crashes down, it feels like all energy is depleted and the children find it difficult to manage their focus as they feel they do not have the energy to do it.
So let me Manna Blood Sugar Support help you manage your child’s blood sugar levels, which will make it SO much easier to manage their ADHD.
How does Manna Blood Sugar Support work?
It keeps the blood sugar levels balanced by slow-releasing the glucose from the food we eat into the bloodstream. This prevents sugar spikes, and subsequently the inevitable sugar crash. When the blood sugar levels are balanced, it will be much easier for your child to remain focused, attentive, and in charge of their ADHD symptoms in order to achieve everything they set out to do to their full potential.