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I recently had a middle-aged patient who is a professional truck driver that was just diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He stated that over the last few years he found it more and more difficult to concentrate and...


I recently had a middle-aged patient who is a professional truck driver that was just diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He stated that over the last few years he found it more and more difficult to concentrate and was finding it hard to sit behind the wheel for long periods of time.

ADHD is often thought of as a childhood condition, however, in many cases it persists into adulthood. The incidences of ADHD in North America are estimated in the millions.

The signs and symptoms of ADHD are most often noticed in childhood. Interestingly, this condition is more often seen in males than females. As the name describes, ADHD is characterized by difficulty paying attention or concentrating as well as hyperactive/impulsive behaviours.

Symptoms tend to become noticeable as early as three years of age. Common symptoms include frequent daydreaming, difficulty following instructions or staying in a seated position for a length of time. If this describes your child, do not be overly concerned as most healthy children are inattentive and hyperactive at times. This does not mean that they have ADHD.

Presently, the exact cause of ADHA is not known. However, research is constantly shedding more light of the condition. It is suggested that genes may play a role in ADHD, as it seems to run in families. If a blood relative has ADHD, the risk of developing it is higher. Other causes such as exposure to environmental toxins, or maternal drug use during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing ADHD. It is a common misconception that ingesting too much sugar can cause hyperactivity. However, there is not significant research to prove this notion.

ADHD often appears in children with other conditions such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorders and depression. The relationship between these conditions and ADHD is still unclear.

If you suspect that your child is exhibiting signs of ADHD, it is recommended that you consult with your family doctor. If necessary, your doctor will make a referral to a specialist for testing. Generally, ADHD testing includes physical examinations, interviews, questionnaires and information gathering. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, the child must meet very specific criteria, which has been established by the American Psychiatric Association.

Once a diagnosis of ADHD has been reached, a treatment plan specifically tailored for the child can be developed. Traditionally, treatment consists of medications, education, training and counseling. The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms associated with ADHD. Currently, stimulant drugs are the most commonly prescribed medication.

These drugs seem to increase and balance the levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In most cases, they reduce the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity.

Behaviour therapy and counseling are often recommended in conjunction with medication. In most cases, this type of treatment is provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker. Research has shown that a team approach in the treatment of ADHD works the best. Communication between entire team including teachers is very important. The team approach helps to maintain consistency and routine which seems to benefit children with ADHD.

Alternative therapy and treatments such as yoga, meditation and special diets may also aid in reducing the symptoms of ADHD. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence proving their effectiveness. It is important to consult with your doctor before starting any therapy to determine if it is safe.

Until next month, drive safely.


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