It’s estimated, 22 million Americans suffer from a disorder called sleep apnea. It’s believed, 80% of patients who have mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea haven’t been diagnosed. While you might think it’s a condition that only affects adults, children can struggle to breathe while they sleep, too. Although their snoring might be cute, it often indicates a larger underlying problem. Kids with sleep apnea need treatment, or it can affect their health, development, and quality of life.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children?
Obstructive sleep apnea in children is relatively rare. In fact, research shows 1-5.8% of children are diagnosed with sleep-related breathing disorders, like sleep apnea. The condition occurs when your child stops breathing frequently throughout the night because an obstruction blocks their airway, like enlarged adenoids and tonsils. This can cause them to wake often, not realizing they have stopped breathing. As a result, the condition can go undetected for years; however, there are several symptoms that can indicate your child needs help.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children?
The symptoms of sleep apnea in children can be quite diverse. Often, they can be attributed to another issue because they differ from the signs of the condition in adults. If you suspect your child has sleep apnea, some important signs to watch for include:
- Constant loud snoring
- Audible pauses in breathing
- Notable restless sleep
- Snorting, coughing, or choking while sleeping
- Habitual mouth breathing
- Bew wetting
- Sleep terrors
- Difficulty paying attention or learning
- Behavioral problems
- Poor weight gain
If your child has any of these symptoms or you suspect they have sleep apnea, it’s important they are evaluated by a sleep professional.
How is Sleep Apnea in Children Treated?
Children’s sleep apnea can be treated by finding the underlying cause of the issue, like enlarged adenoids or tonsils. If they are blocking the airway, a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy will be recommended.
In other cases, an oral appliance can be used to prevent their airway from collapsing. It looks like an athletic mouthguard; however, it doesn’t protect the teeth. Instead, it repositions the lower mandibular forward to prevent the soft tissues in the back of your child’s mouth from collapsing. It’s a comfortable and simple solution to see as much as a 95% improvement in their symptoms.
If an oral appliance isn’t effective, they may need a CPAP machine. This device delivers a steady stream of air through a mask worn over the mouth or nose to keep the airway open.
Help Your Child Breathe Easier
If your child suffers from chronic snoring, it’s time to see a sleep professional. With the right treatment plan, they will sleep better and breathe easier.
About Dr. Kevin Dann
Dr. Kevin Dann is a certified specialist in dental anesthesia; however, he’s undergone extensive training to offer specialty care to patients of all ages, including children. He’s a member of various dental organizations due to his vast expertise, including the American Dental Society of Anesthesia and the Canadian Academy of Dental Anesthesia. If your child has a unique oral health need like sleep medicine, Dr. Dann can help. Contact our office today for an appointment.