• Jennifer Kozek

How A Nasal Obstruction and Tongue Tie Affects Sleep, Learning, Attention and Mood


Has your child gone down every treatment and therapy route with little success? Could it be that all the doctors and therapists you have previously consulted with missed this? Absolutely, Yes! Both my children had multiple tongue ties and an airway obstruction that contributed to learning difficulty, speech problems, ADHD, sleep disturbances, and mood issues.


Sadly, emotional, social, and physical impairments are all too common. Nearly one in 12 children ages 3–17 have a disorder related to voice, speech, language, feeding, or swallowing. Almost one in 10 children have ADHD. One in six children has a developmental disability. One in two-hundred children has an intellectual disability. Up to 50% of children will experience a sleep problem, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, irritability, behavioral problems, learning difficulties, and poor academic performance.


Airway Obstruction – Poor Nasal Breathing


When breathing isn’t proper, many things can go wrong. Breathing through the nose is essential. It filters the air going into your lungs and regulates the amount of air that comes into the body. Breathing correctly through the nose allows the body to take in the proper amount of oxygen, the body and brain needs. Getting enough oxygen helps to calm the mind and increase our energy level. The nose also houses olfactory bulbs, which are direct extensions of part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for many functions in our body, including generating neurotransmitters that influence memory and emotion.


Some nasal obstruction symptoms include mouth breathing, low energy, chewing with the mouth open, teeth grinding, and sleep apnea. Other symptoms are a forward head posture, a tongue that rests on the bottom of the mouth, snoring, memory problems, coughing during sleep, daytime fatigue, weight problems, hyperactivity, and trouble concentrating. Sleep Disordered Breathing is one potential root cause of poor growth, development impairments, a lower intellect, poor cognition, affecting school performance, and more.


In the Journal of Sleep, “Studies show that nasal obstruction may dramatically affect breathing in sleep, and consequentially daytime vigilance and behavior.”


There is an interesting phenomenon when the airway is blocked. The body will overcompensate by increasing the adrenaline (fight or flight) in the body to stimulate breathing and open up nasal passages. This increased adrenaline can cause a child to feel very anxious, angry, hyper, and unfocused. In adults, this can lead to hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, fatigue, and more. Many go undiagnosed for years. Doctors may miss a diagnosis because the obstruction is more pronounced during sleep. And, sometimes, we believe our allergies are causing our congestion alone. When, in fact, there is an obstruction affecting our breathing.


What Causes a Nasal Obstruction?


There are many possible causes of nasal airway obstruction. Deformities or irregularities are primarily genetic unless there is an injury to the nose. A trained Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT) or a Functional Dentist can do a CT scan to determine if there is a problem. Such issues are narrow mouth pallet, a septal deviation, a collapsed nostril, enlarged bone/tissue turbinates, or a sizeable egg-like air sac in the nose. Nasal congestion can also be due to a condition called vasomotor rhinitis (VMR). Without an allergy present, excessive blood flow causes congestion in the nose. The ENT will also look for large adenoids, allergies, and nasal polyps, causing an obstruction. Typically, a person with a blockage has multiple factors at play.


Treatment Options Depending on Causation

  • Pallet expansion

  • Adenoids and Tonsil removal (typically the first and possibly only thing we did in hopes of correcting sleep disturbances – before the medical community recognized the many other possible causes)

  • Aggressive and more invasive nasal surgery (cure rate is not too high)

  • Minimally invasive surgical procedure called MIST (minimally invasive sinus technique)

Initially introduced in the 1990s, MIST revolutionized nasal surgery. It takes less than an hour to complete by an experienced surgeon. There are no incisions, scars, or nasal packing. Discomfort is minimal and has a higher success rate than the older methods.


Tongue or Lip Tie


A tongue or lip-tie affects up to 11% of all newborns. According to the 2017 Cochrane review, and it is often overlooked. This condition restricts the range of motion in a baby’s tongue. It presents as a concise and thick band of tissue that tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the roof of the mouth. A tongue-tie or lip-tie may interfere with breastfeeding, speech, eating, swallowing, and the jaw's oral motor development. Some of the risk factors for developing a tie in utero are often genetic. However, smoking and alcohol use, medication, chemicals, viral infections, methylation issues, and chronic stress may also cause it. A surgical procedure is sometimes required. However, some ties can be resolved with chiropractic manipulation, myofascial release, or exercises alone. An early indication of a tongue or lip tie is the inability to latch on a bottle or breastfeed. A child may appear to latch correctly, and so the condition is not discovered. However, if your child suffers from colic, sleep disturbances, excessive drooling, or spitting up, this may be the cause. Allopathic physicians may insist that the child has an aversion to the breast milk or that you are eating something too gassy. Synthetic formula and Prevacid or other antacid is often prescribed without checking for this condition.


Takeaway


Suppose you or your child is struggling and are exhibiting any signs of an obstruction or tongue tie. In that case, I encourage you to explore it with your ENT or functional dentist before resorting to medication. If you would like more info on how you and your family can overcome anxiety, I am offering a FREE downloadable PDF of an online presentation I recently gave containing these tips and much more. Learn why eating protein is essential and why microbiome diversity is critical. SIGN UP HERE to receive your free download today. To purchase my book Healing Without Hurting, click here.

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