EARLY YEARS: Possible link between ADHD symptoms and breathing problems

Published: Mar. 19, 2019 at 11:31 AM EDT
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There's a new topic of research on the possible link between ADHD symptoms and breathing issues in children.

"I think what we're discovering now is that some ADHD diagnoses may be actually be driven by the fact that a child can't breathe properly," says Roanoke dentist Dr. Paul Henny.

Dr. Henny says breathing through the mouth, instead of the nose can have a negative impact on your overall health.

"When we're chronically breathing through our mouth, our brain stem basically is intepreting that as a threat. And it stimulates the release of cortisol, which is stress hormone and adrenalin," he says.

That can lead to over-stimulation, a decrease in sleep quality and hyperactivity.

When that happens in children, Dr.Henny says it can lead to a possible misdiagnosis of ADHD.

If you suspect your child has ADHD, or they've been diagnosed with it, Dr. Henny has some suggestions:

Pay attention to HOW your child breaths.

Monitor HOW your child sleeps.

Check to see HOW your child's tongue moves.

And watch HOW your child swallows.

Dr. Henny says if you notice issues with your child's breathing, a dental procedure might help.

"A dentist would come into play, perhaps, in helping them with widening out their dental arch for instance, making more room for their tongue, which can interfere with how the child sleeps," says Dr. Henny.

A checkup with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may also help.

According to Dr. Henny, correcting a breathing issue in a child with ADHD symptoms may even prevent them from having to take medication.

"I would say if a child's not breathing well, goal number one is to work on that. When that is resolved, and the other symptoms remain, then maybe some pharmacological assistance would be indicated , but I would say, deal with the basic, obvious things first."