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Central nervous system
Central nervous system


Hyperactivity

Definition:

Hyperactivity means having increased movement, impulsive actions, and a shorter attention span, and being easily distracted.



Alternative Names:

Activity - increased; Hyperkinetic behavior



Considerations:

Hyperactive behavior usually refers to constant activity, being easily distracted, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, aggressiveness, and similar behaviors.

Typical behaviors may include:

  • Fidgeting or constant moving
  • Wandering
  • Talking too much
  • Difficulty participating in quiet activities (such as reading)

Hyperactivity is not easily defined. It often depends on the observer. Behavior that seems excessive to one person may not seem excessive to another. But certain children, when compared to others, are clearly far more active. This can become a problem if it interferes with school work or making friends.

Hyperactivity is often considered more of a problem for schools and parents than it is for the child. But many hyperactive children are unhappy or even depressed. Hyperactive behavior may make a child a target for bullying, or make it harder to connect with other children. Schoolwork may be more difficult. Kids who are hyperactive are frequently punished for their behavior.

Excessive movement (hyperkinetic behavior) often decreases as the child grows older. It may disappear entirely by adolescence.



Causes:


Home Care:

A child who is normally very active often responds well to specific directions and a program of regular physical activity. A child with a hyperactivity disorder, on the other hand, has a hard time following directions and controlling impulses.



When to Contact a Medical Professional:
  • Your child seems persistently hyperactive.
  • Your child is very active, aggressive, impulsive, and has difficulty concentrating.
  • Your child's activity level is causing social difficulties, or difficulty with schoolwork.


What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam on your child and ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. Examples of questions include whether the behavior is new, if your child has always been very active, and whether the behavior is getting worse.

The doctor or nurse may recommend a complete psychological evaluation. There may also be a review of the home and school environments.



References:

Nass R, Ross G. Developmental disabilities. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 61.




Review Date: 5/14/2014
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Atlantic Medical Group
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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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Atlantic Medical Group

More than 600 community-based health care providers.
1-800-247-9580

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