A parent recently posed a very interesting question – are sickly children more likely to have ADHD than healthy ones? Before her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, she had frequent asthma attacks and was prone to ear infections. When she compared notes with a fellow parent who has a son with ADHD, she discovered that the boy also suffers from chronic allergies and experienced upper respiratory tract infections on a regular basis.
Most doctors would say that there is no connection between ADHD and these illnesses; after all, ADHD is a neurological problem while these common childhood illnesses are caused by environmental irritants, genetics, or bacteria. But if you look beyond the superficial symptoms and asses the body as a whole, you’ll find that these health problems are no coincidence.
The traditional medical perspective views the three core problems of ADHD – hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention – as the problem that needs to be treated. Hence, stimulant medications are prescribed in order to address the neurotransmitter deficiency behind these symptoms. However, ADHD is more than just a problem with brain chemistry and genetics; the onset of the symptoms is also influenced by how our body relates with the environment. While genetics does increase a child’s risk of developing ADHD, what really causes ADHD symptoms are triggers like food allergies, toxins in the environment, and nutritional deficiencies. These are the possible underlying problems behind ADHD.
So what do childhood illnesses have to do with ADHD? A number of studies have demonstrated that children with ADHD experience more than just the three main symptoms. Children with ADHD are 50% more likely to get diagnosed with a different psychiatric disorder like childhood depression, or with learning disorders. From the medical perspective, these psychiatric disorders are completely unrelated and require different treatment. Our perspective says otherwise. We view ADHD and these related disorders as signs of a more complex underlying cause in the body and mind of the individual. ADHD symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg; what’s important is discovering what lies beneath the surface so that the body can be healed completely.
In other words, the underlying causes of ADHD also affect the various systems of the body and interfere with their functions. Hence, children and adults with ADHD are more likely to experience problems that go beyond their brain and their behavior. This is why stimulant drugs are not the best way to help a child with ADHD. While medication can temporarily suppress the symptoms, it is by no means an adequate treatment for the underlying problems behind the disorder.