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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief:Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]


Hyperactivity can be described as a physical state in which a person is abnormally and easily excitable or exuberant. Strong emotional reactions, impulsive behaivor, and sometimes a short span of attention are also typical for a hyperactive person. Some individuals may show these characteristics naturally, as personality differs from person to person. Nonetheless, when hyperactivity starts to become a problem for the person or others, it may be classified as a medical disorder. The slang term "hyper" is used to describe someone who is in a hyperactive state.

Other causes of hyperactivity

There was a great deal of focus on Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as a cause of hyperactivity. Other conditions can cause it as well. Normal young children can be very lively and may or may not have short attention spans. Normal teenagers can also appear hyperactive; puberty can cause it. Children who are bored, are suffering from mental conflict, or are having problems at home - which may even include sexual abuse - can be hyperactive. The disorder has a large range of effects on children. Some have learning disabilities, while others may be very gifted, or both.

Hyperactivity can also occur because of problems with hearing or vision. Overactive thyroid, lead poisoning, atypical depression, mania, anxiety, sleep deprivation and a range of psychiatric illnesses are some of the potential causes.

Severe cases of hyperactivity can be very harmful if left untreated, since hyperactive people seldom think about the consequences of their actions.

Does sugar make one hyperactive?

A common belief is that eating too much sugar will make a person hyperactive. This belief is especially prevalent amongst parents and teachers who claim that children's behavior often get more rowdy, excited and energetic after they eat too many sugary food and drinks (such as candy or soda). One particular study found that the perception by parents regarding their children's hyperactivity depended on their belief as to whether they had been given sugar. Other studies have shown that the consumption of sugary items does not cause a measurable increase in hyperactive behavior.[1] Hyperactivity is involved with attention span and personality traits.[3]

Other dietary causes of hyperactivity?

A September 2007 article from Southampton University touted by the British Food Standards Agency displayed that a statistically significant increase in the hyperactivity of children occurred after they consumed common artificial food colours and additives from fruit drinks. The list of compounds included the nearly ubiquitous additive in the beverage industry sodium benzoate and the also popular tartrazine, along with quinonline yellow, sunset yellow, carmoisine and allura red. The British Food Standard Agency has revised its stance on these additives; informing parents of children that demonstrate hyperactive behaviour that removal of foods contain the six additives from their diet could have beneficial results on behaviour.[4]

Other studies have recommended the Feingold Diet which eliminates several synthetic colors, synthetic flavors, synthetic preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Scientific studies have shown mixed results in double blind studies of the diet[1], but recently several reports have been published indicating a statistically significant effect on the behaviour of children on the diet [2][3].


Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular No underlying causes
Chemical / poisoning English ivy poisoning, Fetal alcohol syndrome, Lead poisoning
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Amoxicillin, Amphetamine, Armodafinil, Atomoxetine, Bupropion, Chlorpromazine, Clonidine, Ethosuximide, Fluphenazine , Guanfacine, Haloperidol , Loratadine, Methylphenidate, Modafinil, Nabilone, Nicardipine, Reboxetine, Thorazine, Tolcapone
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Graves Disease, Subacute Thyroiditis
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic 49,XXXXY syndrome, Adrenoleukodystrophy, Arginase deficiency, Chromosome 15 inverted duplication, Chromosome 17, trisomy 17p11.2, Chromosome 17p, partial deletion, Chromosome 22 Ring, Chromosome 8p deletion syndrome, Chromosome 9, trisomy 9q, Chromosome 9q duplication, Citrullinemia, Focal epilepsy syndrome, Fragile-X Syndrome, Pitt-Rogers-Danks syndrome, Potocki-Lupski syndrome, Seckel syndrome , Smith-Magenis Syndrome, Strauss syndrome
Hematologic No underlying causes
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease No underlying causes
Musculoskeletal / Ortho No underlying causes
Neurologic Autism, Cerebral palsy, Diencephalic syndrome, Dubowitz syndrome, Lissencephaly, Mucopolysaccharidosis , Tuberous sclerosis
Nutritional / Metabolic Anorexia nervosa, High T4 syndrome, Phenol sulfotransferase deficiency, Phenylketonuria
Obstetric/Gynecologic Fetal alcohol syndrome
Oncologic Brain tumor
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity Dexedrine overdose
Psychiatric Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Mania
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal / Electrolyte No underlying causes
Rheum / Immune / Allergy No underlying causes
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Alcoholism, Allergic irritability syndrome, Allergic tension-fatigue syndrome, Occupational lead exposure , Stress

Causes in Alphabetical Order

See also

References & notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Krummel DA, Seligson FH, Guthrie HA (1996). "Hyperactivity: is candy causal?". Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition. 36 (1–2): 31–47. PMID 8747098.
  2. Schab DW, Trinh NH (2004). "Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials". Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. 25 (6): 423–34. PMID 15613992.
  3. Donna McCann; et al. (2007). "Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial". The Lancet. in press.

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