Can My Child Have Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) currently affects approximately 3% of children. Furthermore, up to 27% of children suffer from sleep apnea’s most common symptom, habitual snoring. For the majority of children, symptoms of OSA will occur between the ages of two and eight. However, further information suggests that children with minor snoring may suffer from a lot of the same symptoms as those with OSA.
Even though the symptoms of OSA are challenging to identify in children, there are symptoms and warning signs that you can watch for.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
There are various symptoms that you can look for in children, as long as you’re aware of them. If your child suffers from any of the following symptoms, we recommend contacting a sleep specialist, like Dr. Miriam Dani. She’ll ensure your child gets the diagnosis and treatment that they deserve.
Since sleep apnea symptoms can vary between children and adults, and because the symptoms are often more subtle, we advise a comprehensive approach to your diagnosis, including a sleep study.
- Snoring: Loud, excessive snoring is one of the most noticeable symptoms, primarily because recurrent blockages of breathing accompany it. This obstruction results in gasping or snorting noises.
- Developmental Issues: In some instances, children with sleep apnea produce fewer growth hormones, which are essential for their development.
- Irritability: Sleep apnea can cause anger problems, fatigue, and behavioral issues.
- Bedwetting: Sleeping disorders can increase urine production in your child, resulting in bedwetting.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Child
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to severe health problems, including cardiovascular issues such as heart failure, as well as diabetes and difficulties with cognitive functions. Beyond that, there’s a link between sleep disorders and childhood obesity. Awareness for the disorder is growing, making these health issues less widespread. For this reason, we encourage you to seek a diagnosis for your child as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we often misdiagnose sleep apnea as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This happens because daytime symptoms are similar, and without a sleep study to confirm nighttime symptoms, it can lead to a misdiagnosis.
If you believe your child might suffer from sleep apnea, confirm with your doctor and ask if they recommend a sleep study from a qualified professional.
Treating Your Child’s Sleep Apnea
The first step toward a better night’s rest for your child is to see a qualified physician. They’ll conduct a series of tests that will give them a better idea about your child’s condition.
If your child is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are various forms of treatment available—all of which depend on the cause of their OSA. For example, if large adenoids are restricting breathing, a doctor who specializes in the throat, ears, and nose may suggest removing them. This minor surgery is typically very effective.
Your physician might also advise the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. If their symptoms are less severe, your child might be the ideal candidate for a custom-crafted oral sleep appliance.