Few realize there are any problems with sleep apnea among children. Generally, sleep apnea is associated with overweight adults. However, you would be surprised to know that children can suffer from sleep apnea too. For parents concerned that their children may be inflicted with sleep apnea, we at ENT Specialists would like to further elaborate on the subject.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea needs to be taken seriously, especially if you believe your kids may be suffering from it. Breathing stops for at least 10 seconds at a time during sleep apnea. This is an indication that your child’s blood is not properly oxygenated. Your child is still growing and developing, even when their body is at rest. Sleep, growth, and performance in school can be impacted by sleep apnea. Both learning and behavior can be affected with sleep apnea.
Pediatric Obstructive & Central Sleep Apnea
As the most common form of sleep apnea in children, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when something blocks or “obstructs” the airway while sleeping. The lesser, but still occurs, is central sleep apnea which is usually the results of a brain related injury. The brain does not properly send the signals. This sleep apnea is significantly less seen in children.
Does My Child Have Sleep Apnea?
Children are more prone to sleep apnea with following conditions:
– Large tongue
– Sleep apnea family history
– Down syndrome
– Mouth or throat defects
– Cerebral palsy
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
Where some symptoms may be more obvious, some may be subtle. Symptoms are:
– Sleepiness during the day
– Snoring or snorting
– While sleeping, experience heavy breathing
– Trouble waking in the morning
– Behavior problems
– Attention problems
Sleep Apnea Testing & Diagnosis
Possible causes of the obstruction are looked for during the ENT specialist exam. The doctor may order a sleep study. To monitor their breathing while they sleep, the child will spend the night in a special center should the ENT expert request a sleep study. A diet and exercise program to help your child lose weight safely may be recommended if the doctor believes the sleep apnea is caused from being overweight. More often than not, an enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids is the most common reason for sleep apnea in children. Surgical removal will be recommended treatment options if the ENT doctor determines that your child’s tonsils or adenoids are the cause of the obstruction.
Tonsillectomy, Adenoidectomy & Inspire Sleep Apnea Treatments
To permanently correct pediatric sleep apnea, tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy is the answer in many situations. The airways are open day and night by removing the cause of the blockage. Within six months of surgery, the studies show that 75% of children with sleep apnea will have a reduction of episodes. The surgery is performed by the ENT specialist at the hospital or at a surgical center and recovery is expected to take 10-14 days. Another treatment option for sleep apnea is the Inspire treatment. If you suspect your child is affected with sleep apnea, call the professionals of the ENT Specialists and we will schedule an appointment for a doctor to exam, diagnose, and recommend treatment accordingly.