Restore Your Quality of Life Today
Did you know around 12 million people are misdiagnosed each year due to a medical condition displaying similar symptoms to another medical condition? This is a concern for patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea or ADHD.
At the Center for Dental Sleep Health, we understand you want a definite diagnosis and to get the treatment you deserve. Read below to learn more about sleep apnea, ADHD, and the symptoms they have in common.
What are Sleep Apnea and ADHD?
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that restricts the amount of oxygen breathed during the night. Beyond loud snoring, it can also make you sleepy, disorganized, and cause problems in your relationships.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that’s associated with poor focus, impulse control, and organization. This condition is often recognized in children and can continue into adulthood.
It’s not uncommon for a patient to suffer from both sleep apnea and ADHD. In these situations, one condition may contribute to the other, creating more aggressive symptoms.
The Threat of Misdiagnosing Sleep Apnea
A sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) 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 a correct diagnosis is by completing a sleep study.
Symptoms Shared by Sleep Apnea and 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 misdiagnosed the conditions.
The Value of Sleep Study
OSA occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax while you’re sleeping and block your airway, causing breathing to stop. When breathing stops, your body will jolt awake and oftentimes, you won’t remember waking up. These episodes can happen from anywhere between five 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 experienced 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.
That’s why we recommend contacting your physician if you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. A sleep study will give you a proper diagnosis and allow for the correct treatment.
Treatment With Oral Appliance Therapy
If you’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, Dr. Ura offers oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a comfortable, convenient alternative to CPAP. This sleep apnea treatment comes in the form of a mouthguard-like apparatus that works by repositioning the lower jaw forward while you sleep, keeping the airway open.
There are many benefits associated with using a custom oral appliance for sleep apnea, including:
- Minimally invasive treatment
- Comfortable to wear
- Customized fit for you
- Portable size
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:
- Lack of focus
However, because children aren’t always able to express their symptoms clearly, it may be difficult to distinguish if your child has sleep apnea or is suffering from ADHD.
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. For more information about sleep apnea, please call our Nashua office at (603) 237-1124 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
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, which can cause sleeping problems.
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 the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
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 Nahua 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 as soon as possible.