Sleep Apnea in children

Sleep Apnea in Children

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a relatively common sleep disorder that affects 1 in 5 children. OSA, which is also common in adults, is caused by a blockage in the airway.

OSA is most common in obese children, affecting 1 in 5 obese children between the ages of 6 and 11. OSA is also more likely to occur in children who have enlarged tonsils or adenoids. 

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep study or polysomnography. During the study, the child's breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels are monitored. The study also tracks movements, sleep stages, and limb movements.

Sleep apnea is diagnosed when the patient's breathing is interrupted during sleep for at least 20 seconds. Interruptions can be brief, or they can last throughout the night.

What Are The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea In Children?

  • Snoring: If your child snores, or you notice your child snoring more than usual, it's important to take your child to a sleep specialist or pediatrician. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea.
  • Sleepiness: If your children have trouble staying awake or staying awake during the day, sleep apnea could be to blame. Sleepiness can lead to poor academic performance and behavior problems.
  • Unhealthy Weight Gain: Children who are overweight or have obesity have an increased risk of sleep apnea. Obese children are also at an increased risk of developing snoring and breathing problems.
  • Bedwetting: Bedwetting is often a sign of sleep apnea in children. Bedwetting can occur in children who have sleep apnea.

How Is Sleep Apnea In Children Treated?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in developmental issues, poor learning, and behavioral issues. That's why it's important to seek treatment for your child as soon as possible.

If your child has a sleep study, the doctor will be able to determine how severe their sleep apnea is and how best to treat it. Oftentimes, light therapy can help a child sleep through the night. This treatment involves using a mask that is fitted over your child's face while they sleep. The mask helps by keeping your child's airway open while they sleep.

The other treatment options for sleep apnea in children include the following:

Surgical procedures

  • Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids 
  • Surgery to remove extra tissue at the back of the throat
  • Surgery to make an opening in the windpipe to circumvent the blocked airway 

Other treatments may include:

  • Inhaled nasal steroids.
  • Weight loss for obese children.

Tips To Prevent Sleep Apnea In Children

There are a few different things you can do to help prevent your child from developing sleep apnea, including:

  • Encouraging your child to sleep on their side or stomach
  • Installing a humidifier or dehumidifier
  • Using a nasal strip to open their airway
  • Avoiding certain medications

To learn more about our services for sleep apnea, call us at (971) 339-0816 or visit the Sleep Health Partners office at 9370 SW Greenburg Rd, Suite 422 Rd Suite 422, Portland 97223.

Phone: (971) 339-0816



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