Sleep Apnea Children

Sleep Apnea Children

The prevalence of sleep apnea in children may be lower than it is in adults, but it is still common enough to be concerning. In fact, 30% of school children are first misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when the true cause of the child's behavioral problem was later proven to be a sleep disorder. Many parents aren't aware that children can suffer from sleep disorders, and many physicians neglect to test for them.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea in children?

If you believe your child's sleep troubles may be a sign of sleep apnea, here are some symptoms to look out for. Most of these symptoms occur during sleep, while some of the signs may manifest during the day:

Symptoms during the daytime may include:

  • Headaches upon awakening
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor attention span
  • Behavioral issues

Symptoms during the night may include:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping and choking during sleep
  • Long pauses while breathing during sleep
  • Excessive sweating during sleep
  • Mouth breathing
  • Bed-wetting

What are the causes of sleep apnea in children?

Childhood sleep apnea tends to be genetic and run in families. Additionally, children who have enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids have a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.

Other factors that can contribute to sleep apnea may include childhood obesity, having a small jaw or midface, or a larger-than-usual tongue. There is evidence which suggests that exposure to tobacco smoke can also contribute to a child developing sleep apnea.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea in children?

In 90% of cases, surgery to remove enlarged tonsils/and or adenoids can correct the symptoms of childhood OSA. For children whose sleep apnea is due to obesity, weight management and lifestyle programs, such as nutrition and exercise programs, are used to help children manage their weight. If respiratory disorders are contributing to sleep apnea, asthma medications or inhalers may help. Other treatments may include CPAP therapy or oral appliances.

What is the link between sleep disorders in children and poor school performance?

  • Children are just as susceptible to sleep disorders as adults, which will cause children to get fewer than the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Children who don't get enough sleep at night typically become hyperactive during the day, unlike adults who tend to exhibit fatigue after not getting enough sleep
  • This hyperactivity experienced by school children with sleep disorders makes paying attention in school difficult, causing their behavior to become disruptive and their grades to suffer
  • Consequently, these children are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD

If your child has symptoms that may indicate the presence of sleep apnea, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Dr. Prabhat Soni has years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea in children. A sleep study could improve your child's health, his or her school performance and quality of life.  Schedule an appointment today to ensure that your child can get the restful night's sleep he or she deserves.