Updated 18 March 2015

Understanding ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming one of the most diagnosed disorders among children.


It is normal for everyone to zone out in a boring class, jump into a conversation, or leave their homework on the kitchen table once in a while. BUT, kids with ADHD have so much trouble staying focused and controlling their behaviour that it affects their emotions, how well they do in school as well as other areas in their lives.

ADHD can interfere so much with a child’s ability to study and learn that teachers and doctors may consider it a learning disorder.

Do any of the following apply to your child?

  • Their room is a hopeless mess with papers, toys and clothes everywhere. This is normal for a teenager but not really for an 8 year old.
  • They can’t concentrate, even while playing.
  • They make careless mistakes while doing homework, even if they are familiar with the work.
  • Teachers are always contacting you about “bad behaviour”.
  • Important items such as stationary, lunchboxes or clothes are lost on a daily basis.
  • Do they always want to stand up when they should be sitting down?
  • Your child speaks quickly, and with little or no thought of what is being said.
  • They butt in during conversations about things that are completely off the topic being discussed.

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is a brain disorder caused by faulty connections between nerve cells that regulate attention. Research indicates that it is genetic and might be inherited in most cases.

                                                                                                                            fedhealth, adhd

Treatment continues to be a topic of intense debate. Prescription medication for this disorder could produce unwanted side-effects and although they may provide some relief of the core symptoms, they fail to correct individual coping mechanisms in the classroom or at home. However, in some cases, the pros outweigh the cons. Children are able to control impulses and focus. Medication will also lessen the chances of developing co-morbidities such as anxiety and depression. Symptoms can be reduced with a combination of medication and behavioural therapy.

Studies show that a high-protein, low-sugar, no-additive diet combined with ADHD friendly supplements like fish oil and zinc, can drastically improve symptoms with no side-effects. So, make sure that your child:

  • Eats high protein foods. Add protein snacks to lunchboxes.
  • Eats fewer simple carbohydrates such as sweets, honey, sugar, products made from white flour, white rice and potatoes without the skin.
  • Eat more complex carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables. Eating complex carbohydrates before bedtime may aid sleep.
  • Eat more omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon, walnuts, olive oil.

ADHD is a condition associated with negativity. It is understandable for parents to have concerns when their child is diagnosed with ADHD, especially about treatments. It is important to remember that while this condition can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed.

Parents and doctors should work closely with teachers, coaches and other family members. Take advantage of all the resources available to help you guide your child towards success.

The information on Fedhealth Medical Aid is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.