July 29, 2020
If your child has been diagnosed with attention hyperactivity deficit disorder – ADD or ADHD for short – you may be used to them acting irritable or having trouble paying attention if they don’t get enough sleep. They might also have a tendency to forget things. But did you realize these symptoms could be pointing towards a different disorder as well? The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that about a quarter of children who were diagnosed with ADD are actually suffering from obstructive sleep apnea – in other words, much of their behavior is directly connected to a lack of quality sleep. Read on to learn more about how sleep apnea and ADD could be mixed up – and what to do about either condition.
How is ADD Misdiagnosed as Sleep Apnea?
Roughly 1% to 4% of children experience sleep apnea; in other words, the disorder is relatively rare, which is why it is often overlooked as a possibility. Furthermore, many of the key symptoms of sleep apnea – namely lack of attention span, poor impulse control, and impulsiveness – are also present in ADD. Add this to the fact that many younger ADD patients have trouble sleeping to begin with, and it’s easy to see why sleep apnea could potentially be ignored or mistaken for a completely different condition. Sleep apnea can have dangerous effects on your child’s health – such as putting them at risk for heart problems and leaving them exhausted during the day – so it’s vital to make the distinction between ADD and a sleep disorder as quickly as you can.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Sleep Apnea and ADD?
Both disorders have a number of telltale signs you can watch out for. If your little one has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up, they could have sleep apnea; you should be especially worried if you hear them snoring loudly or notice them waking up coughing or in a panic. Children with ADD, on the other hand, tend to have an excessive amount of energy, are easily distracted, and will not focus on things they find boring. (All children exhibit such behavior, of course, but for ADD patients they might end up impairing their ability to function normally.)
What Should You Do About Sleep Apnea and ADD?
If you suspect your child has ADD or sleep apnea, the first step is to take them to their doctor for a proper diagnosis. The next steps depend on what was found. For example, if they do have a sleep disorder, you can ask a sleep dentist for an oral appliance that could correct their sleep disordered breathing.
Both sleep apnea and ADD can be managed so that your child is able to live a healthy, normal life again, but confusing one for the other will hinder your ability to seek effective treatment. When you take your little one to the doctor, don’t forget to voice your concerns about both disorders and make sure that every possibility is considered; your little one’s health could depend on it!
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West is happy to take advantage of her position as a dentist to allow patients young and old in Las Vegas enjoy a good night’s sleep again by using oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. Her practice, iSleep Solutions, offers the Healthy Start for Kids program, which helps little ones who might be suffering from a sleep disorder. To schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (702) 602-2000.
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