Child’s ADHD Could Actually Be Sleep Apnea

Child’s ADHD Could Actually Be Sleep Apnea

May 18, 2018

Most people think of sleep apnea as a condition that only affects adults, but children can be diagnosed with this sleeping disorder. In fact, some of the common behavior or learning problems associated with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could be symptoms of sleep apnea.

Dr. Korous and her staff recently at our Frisco dental office began a continuing education program with the renowned sleeping disorder expert, Dr. Steven Olmos. Dr. Olmos is the founder and CEO of TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre International in California and is one the leading experts on how sleep apnea can affect children.

Dr. Olmos has learned that children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder could actually have a breathing disorder.

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious health issue where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you’re sleeping.

In sleep apnea patients, the muscles in the back of the throat relax, causing their airway to narrow or close as they breathe. Their brains will sense they’re not breathing well, causing them to wake up and reopen their airways.

In children, underdeveloped jaw structure could cause the jaw to push back and block the airway.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea in children?

Many of the symptoms of sleep apnea in children are the same as the symptoms for adults, including:

  • Snoring
  • Mouth breathing
  • Restlessness sleep
  • Stopping and starting breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Mood changes
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Frequent infections and other illness

Parents should look for these additional symptoms in children:

  • Sleeping in odd positions
  • Night terrors
  • Bed wetting

How is sleep apnea related to ADHD?

Many of the symptoms of ADHD overlap with the symptoms of sleep apnea. Difficulty concentrating and staying of focused in school could be due to restless nights caused by a sleeping disorder.

A 2011 study of more than 11,000 children found those with a sleep breathing disorder were more likely to show signs of hyperactivity and have behavior problems such as aggressiveness and not following rules. By age 7, the children in the study were more likely to show these behavioral issues which are frequently used to diagnose a child has having attention deficit disorder.

If your child is showing behavior problems, having difficulty at school or has been diagnosed with ADHD, call our office today to ask about options for sleep apnea treatment. Dr. Korous will work with your child’s physician to determine if your child has sleep apnea and develop a treatment plan.

Additional Reading: ADHD or Sleep Disorder: Are We Getting It Wrong?