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Sleep apnea is a severe medical condition that affects the amount of oxygen breathed during the night. Beyond loud snoring, it can also make you sleepy, disorganized, and cause problems in your relationships.
If you or a loved one suffers from these symptoms, please contact our office at (603) 237-1124 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephen Ura. He’s a trusted sleep dentist who will make sure you get the correct diagnosis and treatment for your unique situation.
The Threat of Misdiagnosing Sleep Apnea
It’s estimated that 36 million Americans — kids and adults — have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and of those people, between one half and three fourths also suffer from a sleep disorder.
A sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea exacerbates the symptoms of ADHD and can cause further problems if left untreated. While the connection between the two conditions isn’t straightforward, the easiest way to ensure you get the correct diagnosis is by completing a sleep study.
Symptoms Shared by Sleep Apnea & ADHD
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of ADHD include:
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing
- Poor time management skills
- Trouble multitasking
- Excessive activity or restlessness
- Poor planning
- Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
Unfortunately, the symptoms of sleep apnea are very similar, and this is part of the reason why some doctors initially misdiagnose the two conditions.
Get a Peace of Mind, Complete a Sleep Study Today
One way OSA occurs is when the muscles in the back of your relax while you’re sleeping and block your airway, causing breathing to stop. These episodes can happen from anywhere between 5 to 35 times a night, sacrificing energy and essential sleep each time.
In 2013, researchers conducted a study that followed a young, healthy man who was struggling with ADHD symptoms. He was diagnosed with ADHD and given medication, but six months later, he still saw symptoms.
Upon returning to his doctor and completing a sleep study, they found that he had sleep apnea instead. With this new information, he was treated appropriately, and his symptoms subsided.
Treatment with Oral Appliance Therapy
An oral appliance is a comfortable, convenient alternative to CPAP. This treatment for sleep apnea comes in the form of a mouthguard-like apparatus that works by positioning the lower jaw forward, which keeps the airway open.
It’s not uncommon for a patient to suffer from both sleep apnea and ADHD. In these situations, one condition may irritate the other, creating more aggressive symptoms.
If you or a loved one is experiencing anything we talk about above, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Alternatively, you can fill out the submission form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can sleep apnea cause ADHD symptoms in children?
Yes, sleep apnea can mimic ADHD symptoms and may cause a misdiagnosis. Both sleep apnea and ADHD have symptoms that mirror each other, such as causing a lack of focus, irritability, impulsiveness, and disorganization. Because children aren’t always able to express their symptoms clearly, it may be difficult to distinguish if your child has sleep apnea.
We recommend scheduling a sleep study if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. A professional diagnosis from a sleep specialist can help your child get the most effective treatment that targets their symptoms, whether caused by ADHD or sleep apnea.
Does ADHD cause sleep problems?
Yes, ADHD can cause sleep problems to occur, which is why its symptoms to sleep apnea are so similar. However, using ADHD treatment for sleep-related problems caused by sleep apnea can worsen the exhaustion. Many ADHD treatments include prescribed stimulants that wake your body up.
While these stimulants are excellent for treating ADHD and helping patients focus, sleep apnea patients may find that it delays their sleep even further. That’s why it’s vital to undergo a sleep study to fully and accurately understand what’s causing your symptoms.
Regain a Full Night’s Rest
Dr. Ura and our entire Nashua team don’t want anyone to suffer from restless nights and fatigued days any longer. If you feel sleep apnea is causing your sleep troubles, get in touch. Call our Nashua office at (603) 237-1124 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ura. You can also reach out through our online contact form and one of our team members will get back to you soon as possible.