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ADHD in Children Health Center

ADHD: Inattentive Type

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Medication to Treat ADHD continued...

Some drugs are in an extended-release form. When your child takes them in the morning, the effects last through the entire school day.

Stimulant drugs don't work for every child with ADHD. You may have to try different medicines until you find the one that changes your child's behavior. Stimulant drugs can also have side effects, including:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Tics
  • Heart and psychiatric problems (rare)

While taking stimulant drugs, your child should have height, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate checked regularly.

Other drugs that are used to treat ADHD include nonstimulant drugs such as:

These medicines don't work as effectively or quickly as stimulants. But they tend to have fewer side effects.

Antidepressants can also treat the symptoms of ADHD. But they carry a warning that they may, rarely, increase the risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children and teens.

Dietary Changes

Some parents have considered dietary changes as a way to treat their child's ADHD. But there's a lot of controversy over this approach and no conclusive scientific evidence to support it.

Diets for kids with ADHD are often based on the idea that some foods or food additives might be contributing to ADHD symptoms in some children. So some parents have tried restricting or eliminating the suspected food additives from their child's diet.

Studies so far have shown no conclusive evidence of a link between food additives -- such as synthetic dyes, flavors, and preservatives -- and ADHD symptoms. There's also no conclusive evidence that avoiding sugar will improve your child's ADHD.

Omega-3 Supplements

Researchers have checked for a link between omega-3 fatty acids and ADHD. Omega-3s are found in foods such as salmon, tuna, and other cold-water fish.

Some studies have shown a possibility that children with ADHD may have low levels of omega-3. But so far researchers have not shown conclusively that giving omega-3 supplements to kids with ADHD improves symptoms.

Other Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments

Some parents have turned to complementary and alternative (CAM) treatments such as:

  • Vision training
  • Herbal and mineral supplements
  • Neurofeedback (training the brain with the help of equipment that measures brain wavelengths)
  • Chelation therapy (removing heavy metals from the blood)

So far there's no evidence from studies that these methods are effective. And some CAM treatments -- such as chelation -- can have serious side effects.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on May 25, 2014
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