Children Affected by Sleep Apnea
Learn About Sleep Apnea in Kids
Every parent wants the best for their child and will always put their health and happiness first. The worst thing to discover is that your child has been suffering from a condition and you had no idea because of the limited warning signs.
Affecting between 1 and 5% of children, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially harmful condition that interrupts your child’s breathing and sleeping all night long. Most sleep apnea cases have been found in children between the ages of 2 and 8, and the majority of them are also habitual snorers.
If you’re aware of your son or daughter’s regular snoring and have noticed other unusual habits, it’s best to mention it to their pediatrician to ensure all symptoms are treated and taken care of.
Keep an Eye On Your Child’s Health
There are various warning signs to look out for if you suspect your child suffers from obstructive sleep apnea. However, it’s crucial to know that children who have sleep apnea may not exhibit obvious symptoms as adults do. As a parent, the best approach is to speak with your child’s pediatrician or an ENT (ear, nose throat) specialist to set up a sleep study.
Some signs you may notice include:
- Snoring: Loud, persistent snoring is the number one symptom of OSA. If their snoring is often interrupted by a loud gasping sound or snort, it’s likely they have a blocked airway which is stopping their regular breathing pattern.
- Irritability: Lack of sleep affects your child’s mood and can make them more irritable during the day. This will influence them to display busy or hyperactive behavior.
- Slow growth: OSA can affect growth hormones and result in abnormally slow growth and development. It can also cause your child to be disruptive or inattentive which affects their learning at school.
- Bedwetting/Sleepwalking: Since your child’s development and hormones are affected by OSA, it can increase their urine production at night and sleepwalking episodes.
- Health Signs: It’s been found that an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and obesity are all factors associated with child sleep apnea.
Help Them Sleep Soundly Again
In order to discover your child’s sleep apnea, you’ll need to take them in for an official sleep study. By doing so, their doctor can properly diagnose them for obstructive sleep apnea or other breathing problems they may have.
If your son or daughter have OSA, a variety of treatments can be recommended for them depending on their distinct case. Some doctors, specifically ENT’s, may suggest tonsil or adenoid removal if this is the reason behind their interrupted breathing pattern. Another solution may be a CPAP mask which blows continuous air through your child’s mouth to open their airway.
Here in Westlake Village, Dr. Greenman wants to help you discover your child’s sleep apnea early on and treat it with effective care. We offer oral appliances for children with mild-to-moderate OSA who may prefer a smaller, more comfortable treatment. Contact Dr. Greenman today if you’re unsure where to take your child for their official diagnosis and need a recommendation for a local sleep pediatrician.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there additional symptoms of sleep apnea in children?
Sleep apnea can be tricky to detect in children because it shares symptoms with other disorders, especially ADHD. As a result, children are often misdiagnosed with ADHD when they actually suffer from sleep apnea. Dr. Greenman recommends your child undergo a sleep test if they’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Loud, frequent snoring
- Gasping or choking sounds overnight
- Morning/daytime fatigue
- Short attention span/lack of focus
- Slow growth
How do you treat sleep apnea in children?
If your child is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are several potential treatments. One option is a CPAP machine, which pumps air into a mask that your child wears while they sleep. Unfortunately, CPAP machines are noisy and uncomfortable, causing many children to stop using them.
In these cases, Dr. Greenman can customize an oral appliance just for them. These appliances are similar to a mouthguard and allow you to breathe freely overnight. Unlike CPAP, these devices are comfortable, silent, and easily portable. As a result, your child can finally enjoy the quality sleep they need to function at a healthy level.