Sleep Apnea & Children

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Are you aware of the dangers that accompany sleep apnea in children?

Similar to adults, sleep apnea can have a significant impact on a child’s energy and attention span. At such an early age, it’s crucial to be aware of the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea in children and to be prepared to take the necessary steps to combat it.

Causes Of Sleep Apnea in Children

There is a myriad of reasons why a child may be experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. These reasons can range from being overweight to having a family history of sleep apnea.

However, muscle and skeletal development also play a role in increasing a child’s risk of developing sleep apnea.

Because children’s jaws and mouths are still developing, enlarged tonsils, jaw size, and tooth position can increase the likelihood a child will suffer from sleep apnea.

Certain medical conditions, such as Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, can also increase a child’s risk of developing sleep apnea.

Symptoms To Look For

Identifying how sleep apnea affects children’s daily lives is an important step towards helping them receive proper care. Children often have difficulty expressing what’s going on inside their head, and in many instances, the symptoms are misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD.

Symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea that we encourage parents to look out for include:

  • Deep snoring with pauses and snorts
  • Heavy breathing when sleeping
  • Bedwetting after the age of 3
  • Restless sleep and/or sleeping in unusual positions
  • Daytime sleepiness and difficulty focusing on school or behavioral problems

In school-age children with sleep apnea, daytime fatigue can be misinterpreted as disruptive behavior in school or daydreaming. If your child’s teacher brings up these behaviors, we recommend bringing them for a sleep apnea evaluation.

What are my Child’s Sleep Apnea Treatment Options?

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step to helping your child get the sleep they deserve.  A sleep physician who specializes in treating children is the next step in determining why your child is having these symptoms.  In some cases, tonsillectomy, a CPAP machine or  orthodontics can be the perfect treatment option.  Your local physician can determine if this is the best option for your child. 

If your child is showing signs of sleep apnea, Dr. Aldrich can refer them to a qualified specialist such as an ENT, Allergist, or Orthodontist for further treatment. Contact your pediatrician today to learn more about pediatric sleep apnea and to schedule you or your child’s consultation.

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