Melody Yazdani is a mother of four, and has been at this whole parenting thing for over 12 years now. But even after more than a decade of raising babies, Melody learns something new everyday.
This week, she shared a HUGE red flag that all parents should be aware of saying, “it may just change your life.”
In a viral Facebook post that’s now been shared almost 200,000 times since last Wednesday, Melody calls on all parents to be aware of the “huge red flag” in a picture of her son sleeping on her chest.
Do you see it? I didn’t either, until Melody “yelled” via Facebook the one thing that makes all the difference in this photo:
“CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BREATHE THROUGH THEIR MOUTHS. Not while awake, not while asleep. Never.”
She starts by giving the history of behavioral problems she began having with her son, Kian, shortly after he started school.
The now-8-year-old who Melody describes as “determined, intelligent, feisty, and extremely active,” had been fine in school all the way through Kindergarten. But when first grade rolled around, they began receiving behavior reports. Kian was pushing fellow classmates, he had a hard time controlling his body, and needed to be on a reward system in the classroom.
Things seemed to improve at school, but at home it did anything but.
“When Kian gets angry, he gets ANGRY. He gets fixated on little things (there is a hair in the shower, it’s gross! I can’t shower in there! *melt down commences*), his fuse gets shorter and shorter, and he’s a picky eater who barely eats.”
When second grade came around, Kian was only getting worse.
“While other kids are outgrowing their tantrums, Kian’s intensify and turn into daily spectacles, triggered by the smallest thing. The behavior reports from school start rolling in. ‘Kian is pushing,’ ‘Kian can’t control his impulses,’ ‘Kian is having a hard time staying in his seat,’ and it going on and on. Almost daily. And I’m mortified.
Every morning it’s tantrum after tantrum, before we even get out of bed. Hitting, and throwing things, and the screaming. All the screaming. Starting at 5AM every morning. We were at a loss – how did he become this way, what could be have done different?”
Melody says that Kian began seeing a multitude of doctors—everyone from his pediatrician to a therapist to a pulmonologist and an allergist. He had a persistent cough that refused to go away, behavioral problems through the roof, and no sign of knowing what was actually the root of the problem.
Kian’s therapist was very confident in the need for ADHD testing, pushing Melody in that direction.
It wasn’t until Kian saw the least-likely of doctors on his long list of specialists that Melody finally got a lead on what was triggering her son’s behavior issues.
A Trip to the Dentist
“At a cleaning, Kian’s dentist makes an offhand comment about his teeth – they were ground almost half way down, he’s grinding his teeth at night.”
That was when everything changed. At the perfect time, Melody stumbled across an article in the Washington Post that studied the connection between ADHD, sleep disordered breathing, and mouth breathing.
“Every word in this article sounded like Kian. This led me down a rabbit hole of research (the majority of which was done right in our back yard at the National Institute of Health) where I learned the following:
- Mouth breathing is NOT NORMAL and has long term consequences for health. I’ll repeat, because this is important – MOUTH BREATHING IS NOT NORMAL, NOT DURING THE DAY OR AT NIGHT. When a child breathes through their mouth, their brain (and body) is not getting enough oxygen. At night, this lowered oxygen saturation is detrimental to the quality of sleep and their brain’s ability to get enough rest.
- When the mouth is open, the tongue cannot rest in the correct place. Over time this can lead to incorrect development of the upper jaw – narrow and high palette, a recessed lower jaw (overjet and overbite can form), speech problems (r/l mispronunciation) and misaligned teeth. These developments narrow the airways and worsen the problem. Medical professionals have a term for the resulting ‘long’ face caused by these changes – ‘Adenoid face.’
- When sleeping, in addition to the decreased oxygen, the recessed jaw can cut off the airway completely and contribute to sleep apnea in children. To compensate, the body wakes the child and pushes the jaw forward, resulting in disrupted sleep cycles and tooth grinding (bruxism).
“Here’s the kicker,” she says:
- Sleep deprivation in children and ADHD exhibit the same symptoms. The EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS. Studies have been done (thanks, NIH) where they took medicated ADHD kids, fixed the sleep disordered breathing, and within 6 months 70% of the children had seen a resolution in symptoms and were no longer medicated. As in, their ‘ADHD’ was cured. Because it wasn’t ADHD. In 70% of children. Let that sink in. This means that 70% of those children had been misdiagnosed with ADHD, when they actually had a treatable sleep disorder.
- Stimulants – Of course they work, until they don’t. If you are sleep deprived, taking a stimulant will of course help you focus and feel ‘normal.’ But the brain is never fully resting – and hence the side effects that pop up: nervousness, agitation, anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia), stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and suicidal ideation.
Melody puts it like this: Imagine yourself after three days of sleep deprivation. Now multiply that by 100, and then add a stimulant like caffeine or something even stronger into the mix. “How do you think you’ll feel once you start coming down from that?” she asks.
After doing some hard long research, Melody finally got Kian to see an ENT (ears, nose, and throat specialist).
Following an eye-opening sleep study, Kian was diagnosed with sleep apnea and sinusitis.
“He got exactly 0 minutes of REM sleep during the first study, and oxygen saturation in the low 80%, and his sinuses were 90% blocked. We had no idea that Kian had a headache daily, but it was just his normal so he never thought to tell us. Kian had his tonsils and adenoids removed and the change was immediate. He could breathe through his nose as soon as he came out of surgery, where he couldn’t when they wheeled him in.”
Melody says they have seen a “complete 180” in Kian’s behavior.
“No more angry tantrums, no more fixation on little OCD things, it’s been an enormous change. And we haven’t even finished the second step – fixing his jaw and tongue issues that developed during the course of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Our followup sleep study? 360 minutes of REM sleep, and oxygen saturation above the minimum threshold. No behavior reports in school. His appetite has exploded, hes no longer a picky eater, and he had a huge growth spurt 2 weeks after the surgery. He still has mild sleep apnea, but the frequency in the night was cut in half, and the duration of each episode was cut in half. If we see this much of a change now, I can only imagine how much it will improve once we cross the finish line.”
In her post, Melody says she’s sharing her experience because her child was sleep deprived and it disguised itself as ADHD. Kian’s brain, and thus, his body, wasn’t getting the proper rest that it needed simply because he was breathing with his mouth open.
Melody says no one had ever told her about this relationship between sleep disorders and ADHD, but it’s something every parent needs to know about, because it’s radically transformed her son’s quality of life.
Children who often suffer from sleep disorders will often breathe through their mouths, and exhibit several of the following symptoms:
- Falls asleep immediately after their head hits the pillow
- Grinds their teeth
- Wakes up in the night
- Has night time accidents or daytime accidents
- Has impulse control issues
- Is hard to understand when speaking
- Has under eye circles
- Has crooked teeth or a misaligned bite
- Wakes up insanely early
- Is irritable during the day
- Has a bad appetite
“If any of this is raising red flags in your mind, if this sounds like your child, if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, please see an ENT and get a sleep study. It may just change your life.”