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Hyperactivity

Definition

Hyperactivity means there is too much muscle activity.

Hyperactivity is also used to describe a situation when a part of your body is too active, such as when a gland makes too much of a hormone.

See also: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

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. However, certain children -- when compared to others -- are clearly far more active, which 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. However, 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.

Common 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.

Call your health care provider if

  • 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 health care provider's office

The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the symptoms and medical history, such as:

  • Is this a new behavior for the child, or has the child always been very active?
  • Is the behavior getting worse?
  • Exactly what behavior have you noticed?
  • Is the child physically active?
  • Is the child easily distracted?
  • Does the child have trouble following directions?
  • Have you noticed anything that makes the child more or less active?
  • Is the child more active at school than at home?
  • What other symptoms are present?

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


Review Date: 5/16/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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