Sleep Apnea Symptoms In Children Misdiagnosed As ADHD

Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can appear at almost any age, but most people are not diagnosed with OSA until they reach adulthood. Sleep apnea side effects change with age, and they are often more apparent to adults than children because adults do not bounce back as easily. With that in mind, OSA may also be misdiagnosed as a different condition, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Let’s take a closer look at how sleep apnea symptoms mimic ADHD symptoms and what you can do to help your child get better.

Why Sleep Apnea May Be Diagnosed As ADHD

People with sleep apnea often feel fatigued throughout the day because their body is not able to rest properly at night. With children, that fatigue can translate to irritability, falling asleep at inappropriate times, restlessness, and easy distraction – all potential symptoms of ADHD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of American children age 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of these may be false diagnoses, but it is easy to see why doctors may automatically assume that a restless child has ADHD instead of sleep apnea.

Can A Child Have ADHD And Sleep Apnea?

Yes, it is entirely possible that a child has obstructive sleep apnea and ADHD. It’s important to note though that not all children who have OSA have ADHD, and vice versa. Many of the children we see at our Michigan sleep apnea treatment center have other behavioral conditions that must be treated on their own. Improving OSA symptoms may reduce the severity of those symptoms though, if not eliminate them altogether.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has Sleep Apnea Or ADHD?

Parents play a key role in determining if a child has sleep apnea or ADHD because they see how their child behaves all day long. In the case of diagnosing OSA, you have a chance to watch your child at night to see if he or she is getting a good night of sleep. Does your child toss and turn a lot at night? Does he or she snore heavily? Does your child stop breathing momentarily at night? These are all potential warning signs of sleep apnea that you may need to get checked out. The team here at Clinton Dental Center would be more than happy to assist you.

If your child sleeps soundly through the night and still remains irritable or fatigued during the day, you will need to talk to your family doctor about ADHD treatment or other potential solutions for your child.