Uncovering Misdiagnoses: Exploring ADHD’s Overlapping Conditions

by | Blog

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a widely recognised neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children and adults alike.

However, the complexity of ADHD symptoms can sometimes lead to misdiagnoses, resulting in improper treatment or a lack thereof. In this article, we delve into two commonly misdiagnosed conditions that share symptoms with ADHD: poor airway health and developmental or complex trauma. In addition to these conditions, there are other lesser-known factors that can contribute to misdiagnoses, such as vision problems, hearing problems, giftedness, learning disabilities, head injuries, and fetal alcohol syndrome. By comprehending the intricacies of these overlapping conditions, we can ensure accurate diagnoses and provide appropriate support to those who require it.

Poor Airway Health: A Misdiagnosis Culprit

One often overlooked misdiagnosis for ADHD is poor airway health, encompassing issues like mouth breathing, sleep disorders, and allergies. Research suggests that children with compromised airways may exhibit behaviours resembling ADHD, such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Understanding the impact of airway health on neurodevelopment disorders is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

To gain further insight, we recommend watching the video Finding Connor Deegan discussing the connection between airway health and misdiagnoses of neurodevelopment disorders. Additionally, listening to this podcast on Spotify and reading the following articles Could some ADHD be a type of sleep disorder? and Our Son’s Sleep Disorder Was Misdiagnosed as ADHD can provide a comprehensive understanding of this issue. For an in-depth exploration of the topic, we suggest the book Breathe, Sleep, Thrive by Dr Shereen Lim, which delves into the relationship between poor airway health and misdiagnoses.

If you would like to find an Holistic Dentist or Oral Myologist near you to help ascertain if your child could have been misdiagnosed, you can find some here on our website.

Developmental or Complex Trauma: Unraveling the Overlap

Another condition that often overlaps with ADHD symptoms is developmental or complex trauma. Traumatic experiences during childhood, regardless of their magnitude, can manifest in ways similar to ADHD. Trauma can stem from various sources, including:

  • Fetal trauma (intra-uterine)
  • Birth trauma
  • Loss of a parent or close family member
  • Illness, high fevers, accidental poisoning
  • Physical injuries, including falls and accidents
  • Sexual, physical and emotional abuse including severe abandonment or corporal punishment
  • Witnessing violence
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods
  • Medical and dental procedures
  • Surgery, particular tonsillectomies with ether, operations
  • Anaesthesia
  • Prolonged immobilisation, the casting and splinting of young children’s legs or torsos for various reasons

To explore the connection between trauma and misdiagnosis, we recommend listening to the insightful audio Is it ADHD or Trauma Symptoms? that sheds light on the overlapping symptoms of trauma and ADHD. Additionally, the provided article How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD offers valuable information on how childhood trauma can be mistaken for ADHD. For those seeking an in-depth understanding, we suggest reading the book The Body Keeps the Score, which delves into the complexities of developmental trauma and its potential misdiagnosis.

Ensuring accurate diagnoses is essential in offering the right support and treatment for individuals with ADHD. Unfortunately, misdiagnoses can happen when other conditions share similar symptoms, and many healthcare professionals may not be adequately trained to recognise them.

As a parent, you play a crucial role in advocating for your child’s well-being. Equipping yourself with knowledge about potential misdiagnoses can help you determine if your child has been misdiagnosed or prevent them from being diagnosed with a condition they don’t actually have. By becoming an informed advocate, you can navigate the diagnostic process more effectively and ensure your child receives the appropriate care they need.


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