AskDefine | Define hyperactivity

Dictionary Definition

hyperactivity n : a condition characterized by excessive restlessness and movement

User Contributed Dictionary


Extensive Definition

Hyperactivity can be described as a physical state in which a person is abnormally and easily excitable or exuberant. Strong emotional reactions, impulsive behavior, 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.

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.

Sugar consumption as a cause of hyperactivity

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/sweets or soft drinks). 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. Hyperactivity is involved with attention span and personality traits.

Studies on other dietary causes of hyperactivity

A September 2007 article from Southampton University, touted by the UK 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 UK Food Standards 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. 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, but recently several reports have been published indicating a statistically significant effect on the behaviour of children on the diet .

Complicating Factors

Other studies point to synthetic preservatives and artificial coloring agents agravating ADD & ADHD symptoms in those affected. Older studies were inconclusive quite possibly due to inadequate clinical methods of measuring offending behavior. Parental reports were more accurate indicators of the presence of additives than clinical tests. Several major studies show academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased in large non-ADD student populations when artificial ingredients were eliminated from school food programs.
hyperactivity in German: Hyperaktivität
hyperactivity in French: Hyperactivité
hyperactivity in Norwegian: Hyperaktivitet
hyperactivity in Serbian: Хиперактивност
hyperactivity in Turkish: Aşırı aktivite
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