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:
- 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
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.