ADHD can persist into adulthood


DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I have no idea what it is. I understand she had it since she was a child. Can anything be done for her now? She’s in her late 40s. — Anon.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please tell me about ADHD. My granddaughter now lives with me while she goes to college. Her mother says her condition is under control. Is this a mental problem? I am 89 and very troubled. — J.C.

ANSWER: ADHD didn’t get its name until the 1980s, so when you both were raising a family, you didn’t hear about it. It’s a brain disorder caused by an imbalance in the way brain chemicals affect information transfer from one brain cell to another. It’s not just a childhood disorder. About 50 percent of affected children carry it with them into adulthood.

Children and adults with ADHD have an inability to focus on the task at hand. They can’t stay seated for long periods. They flit from one activity to another. They’re impulsive. As adults, they often make bad decisions quickly. Adults with ADHD tend to be edgy and anxious. Children with it are always in motion. These are not willed behaviors. Without help, affected children have great difficulty learning. Affected adults often are unable to hold on to a job.

Treatments are available to children and adults. Ritalin is one often-prescribed drug. It helps regulate brain chemistry, as do the other ADHD drugs. Treatment is more than handing a child or an adult a pill. Counseling is necessary. Professionals can set goals for children and teach them ways to develop discipline and concentration. They can help adults control impulsivity and lead them away from making rash decisions.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband had surgery for two painful Morton’s neuromas on his feet. The surgery necessitated weeks of recovery, and it is a risk for infection. I had saline (saltwater) injections to treat my Morton’s neuromas. They worked. No danger of infection. No long recovery. These were the best treatments for me. — C.H.

ANSWER: A Morton’s neuroma is a nerve in the ball of the foot that has become entrapped in scar tissue. It causes burning or shooting pain in that region, and the pain frequently radiates into the toe. The spot usually affected is the area beneath the third and fourth toes. Women are more prone to developing a Morton’s neuroma than are men. Every foot malady that favors women more than men is blamed on high heels. They may have a role in causing Morton’s neuroma, but they are not the only cause.

People with a Morton’s neuroma don’t have to rush to surgery. Sometimes simple things, like wearing wider and better-cushioned shoes, end the pain. A padded shoe insert is another treatment. Injections of the area around the neuroma with cortisone have been successful. I have never heard of saline injections. I have heard of dilute alcohol injections. They’re a newer treatment, and they have worked well for many. I’m glad your treatment was so outstanding, and I thank you for telling us about it.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a senior and have been afflicted for the past year with tinnitus, ringing in the ears. I have seen ads that claim to cure the problem with pills. I am afraid that these are scams. I would greatly appreciate your opinion. — E.D.

ANSWER: I haven’t seen any ads for pill treatment of tinnitus. Like you, I am skeptical of such claims. I wouldn’t send money for it. Often, tinnitus in older people follows a decrease in hearing. The brain generates its own noises. Background noise dampens that din for people with good hearing. People with poor hearing perceive those noises as tinnitus. A hearing aid sometimes can stop this kind of tinnitus.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from