Behavioral problems in children may be linked to breathing issue in sleep

Summer vacation is a time for families to bond.

While in close quarters on vacation, parents may notice how their children are sleeping.

Often times they pick up on a health issue called "sleep disordered breathing," otherwise known as sleep apnea in adults.

The disturbed sleep can often make kids irritable and many parents wrongly assume their child's problem is behavioral.

"You hear of some kids who are misdiagnosed as being attention deficit disorder or hyperactive and they really have sleep disturbed breathing," said Dr. Thomas Andrews of Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists.

Three-year-old Maddysen Bales was diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing after her mother noticed she was sleeping horribly and getting up in the middle of the night.

Alexia Bales said Maddysen sounded like a grizzly bear when she slept.

She said she was also throwing temper tantrums.

"We would discipline her and she would get upset over that," Bales said.

In Maddysen's case, Dr. Andrews recommended a tonsillectomy. Bales said she's noticed a difference in her daughter after the surgery.

"She's stepped up more than one hundred percent," she said.

Dr. Andrews said while a tonsillectomy was the right answer for Maddysen, it may not be the solution for all kids who suffer from sleep disordered breathing.

"In some cases, the physical diagnosis doesn't fit with the history and that's when it's very advantageous to get a sleep study", Dr. Andrews said.

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