Sleep Apnea - Grandview,MO

Updated on October 11, 2007
B.W. asks from Grandview, MO
6 answers

I was wondering if anyone has a young child with sleep apnea? I was told appx 25-30 percent of kids are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD and have sleep apnea instead. From what I understand, the same symptoms can occur in both cases. I am having behavioral issues with my oldest son, and our Doctor told us to see a ENT to see if he might suggest surgery to remove his tonsils and adnoids to help him sleep better. Has this surgery helped anyone? I am suppose to tape my son sleeping and bring that in for the Doctor to see since a young child could not get through a typical sleep study, so my husband and I are set to do that for next week when we go in for the appointment.

My other question is what if my child has sleep apnea and ADD..that would mean surgery and drugs? Has anyone had that happen to them where they end up with both things to try and work with? Does anyone know any things I can try before we have to take these types of measures? No one wants a surgery, and I would rather not go that way if I do not have to. I have been watching his diet, per his doctor to look for things that might make a difference, but other than that any ideas would be greatly appreciated!


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answers from Kansas City on

No one likes the idea of surgery, but it made a WORLD of difference in my daughter's behavior! My daughter was 3 when she had her tonsils & adnoids out (I recommend doing tubes if your child has any fluid in their ears-- we didn't b/c I didn't want to do any unnecessary things and the doc thought it might drain on its own, but it didn't and we had to go back in for tubes-- more surgery, more expense. luckily tubes are painless, so there was no recovery time for that).

I thought she probably had sleep apnea b/c when she would come in to sleep with us, I'd notice that her breathing would pause and she would gasp for air. The last straw for us was when she actually ASKED to go to bed during dinner for several nights in a row. She also had frequent temper tantrums.

After the surgery, she was a new person-- VERY few tantrums & just happier in general. The surgery and recovery actually wasn't as bad as I'd feared. We went in to visit the hospital & nurses about a week before her surgery and they showed her the gowns, some of the equiptment, and even gave her a breathing mask to take home (the thing they use for anesthesia). When it was time to go with the nurse to the operating room the next week, she just took the nurse's hand and went with her.

Just to give you an idea of the recovery process, so you know it's not as bad as you might think-- The night after her surgery, she got to choose what she wanted to eat-- she chose shrimp and ate it all (our doc said she could have anything she wanted). She basically layed around for the next day or two (She ate great the day after surgery too). After that, she didn't eat a whole lot, but she was more active. Then a week or so (it's been a while so it's hard for me to remember) after surgery, the scabs came off (coughed up what seemed to us like a lot of blood, but took her in and they said it was fine) and she didn't feel good for a day or two after that, but then it was progressively better.

This surgery literally changed her life for the better and I highly recommend doing it if the doc recommends it. Think about how unfocused you are when you don't get a good night's sleep-- and then imagine having to function like that week after week. It's really hard for kids to learn under these conditions and that's what kids do all day, no matter their age-- they're constantly absorbing and learning. So they miss out on a lot when they're walking around sleep-deprived. I would read up on sleep apnea if your doc says your child has it. Check and Best of luck!



answers from Kansas City on

Hi, B. -

First, a disclaimer. I'm a psychologist specializing in the assessment of ADHD and learning disabilities (and also a mom of 3!).

You didn't say how old your son is, so some of this is hard to address. I will say that I have seen kids improve remarkably with treatment for sleep apnea, and I always consider sleep issues in diagnosing ADHD. What makes your pediatrician suspect sleep apnea? If this is truly a concern, you need to have him evaluated by someone who specializes in sleep disorders in young kids. You can contact me privately for some recommendations.

How was he diagnosed with ADHD? I'd be happy to talk with you about how the diagnosis process works. There are many things that can be done to treat ADHD - medications are only one route.

Please let me know if I can help you out with this in any way.

K. Jordan, Ph.D.


answers from Kansas City on

This is what happened with us with daughter # 3. She was 4 years old when my mother brought an article to me about children developing ADHD because of sleep apnea. The article said that if the child wasn't diagnosed and treated before the child is 4-6 years old it would become permanent.

In our case our daughter snored like a 60 year old man. She had been to an ENT many times for ear infections and yet no one ever told us about her tonsils being too big. But when I read the article I looked in her throat and was horrified to see that almost zero air could get through while she was awake and we knew then that as soon as she laid down she was unable to breath. She had been tossing, turning, whining and crying in her sleep for 2 years!

We removed her tonsils and her snoring stopped immediately. But I am sad to report that the behavior problems did not. She continued to get more rambunctious and hyper until she was 7 years old. Her years between 5 and 7 were filled with a lot of scares as she was out of control in so many ways. We then had more trouble around 12-14 years of age and then she calmed down almost overnight. Now she is 17 years old, a manager at McDonalds, still sleeps little but is able to control herself and doing decently in school.




answers from Joplin on

My son also had sleep apnea. (5 years old at the time) We had the opposite problem, our doctor was resistant to give us a referral to an ENT. She was the type that thought parents were stupid. Anyway, we got the referral and he had his tonsils and adnoids removed and also had tubes inserted in his ears. His tonsils were as big as Texas. It's a wonder that he could even breath. After the surgery, he was a new boy! He was able to sleep better, therefore his wakeful hours were much more pleasant. I can't really say much about the apneaa/ADHD connection, but anytime we have a better nights sleep, the better our brains can think and process.
My husband has sleep apnea and sleeps with a c-pap machine at night. It makes all the difference in the world. If for some reason he is un able to wear it or it becomes disconnected at night, he does not have a good day. He is fuzzy, sleepy, and his concentration is terrible. He will often doze off at his desk. But, as long as he has his machine on, he does just great.
Regarding your son again, I would suggest the surgery. It is much better to have it now while he is young. He will bounce back within a couple of days.



answers from Kansas City on

I have a very good friend whoes step-daughter went through a sleep study when she was 5yo, so my first question would be how young is your son? As far as surgery for sleep apnea it could be a perment answer to his behavior problems if he does indeed have it and not ADD or if he has both it could be enough to help him from needing meds. As far as medication for the ADD goes both I and my 6yo daughter have ADD and neither of us has ever been on meds nor do I plan on ever putting her on meds. We use verious behavior modification plans and work closely with her school to keep her behaviors to a minium so she can be sucessful in school and at home it is not a huge problem for us to keep her behavior under control. And as an adult with ADD, I was able to granduate top of my class at nursing school and have no trouble with the hectic pace at my job.



answers from Kansas City on

ADD and ADHD are two completely different things. And I have never heard of either being misdiagnosed due to sleep apnea. I do know that diet is key. Alot of the additives and sugar (lots of studies on this) in food trigger reactions in people, especially kids. Trying more organic foods may help, studies have suggested, due to the lack of additives, pesticides, etc. Also, flax seed oil is another thing you may try. Studies have also shown that it helps with symptoms of ADD and ADHD, since it balances out their omega intake. Teachers/daycare workers for 4 years tried to tell me my son had ADHD. I took him to a psychologist, who didn't confirm or deny it. Turns out, my son is extremely gifted. I corrected our houses eating habits with more vegetables, fruit, and buy organic as the budget allows, and he is now in a gifted program. The issues that were concerning before worked themselves out, including him maturing. He's now 8, and it has been a complete turn around. Please don't jump to surgery or drugging your child without diligent research, tracking your childs behavior and eating habits, and sleep. Do plenty of research on all of the things you mentioned and go to your doctor fully prepared. I know you want the best for your child, or you wouldn't be asking questions. You know your child better than anyone. Do the research with open eyes and try to work with your doctor with the information you've found.

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