Treating Children with
Is It Possible for Children to Have Sleep Apnea?
Is your son or daughter a loud snorer or heavy breather at night? Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is often misdiagnosed or completely undiagnosed because of the similar symptoms it has to attention deficit hypertension disorder (ADHD). Both conditions may affect your kid’s daytime energy, impact their attention span, or cause difficulty in the learning process.
Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect between 1 and 4% of children between the ages of two and eight years old, yet nearly 25% of children with ADHD are actually suffering from sleep apnea and have been misdiagnosed.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it may be necessary to find a sleep pediatrician to help discover their true condition. Their behavioral issues may be due to their fragmented sleep pattern and the only way to officially find out is with a sleep study.
Signs to Look Out For
Sleep apnea is not as easily recognized in children as it is in adults and can be harder to identify. Typically, an adult with OSA is overweight and has bad habits that negatively impact their overall health and sleep.
For children, the most common factor associated with their OSA is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Being aware of other symptoms is important for your child’s development and health, so other early signs you may notice include:
- Snoring or pauses in their breath
- Snorting or gasping during sleep
- Heavy breathing
- Behavioral issues
- Daytime sleepiness
Health Threats and Risk Factors
Since many children are often misdiagnosed with ADHD rather than OSA, this means they’re not receiving effective treatment for their condition. Medications for ADHD may help their behavioral and learning problems, but it won’t allow them to achieve the quality of sleep they need.
Untreated pediatric sleep apnea can lead to major health issues such as heart complications, diabetes, growth development, and obesity. Other risk factors that may increase your child’s risk for OSA include:
- A family history of OSA
- History of low birth weight
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
- Sickle cell disease
- Neuromuscular disease
Finding Treatment for Your Child
To officially discover if your son or daughter is suffering from pediatric sleep apnea, finding an experienced sleep doctor to conduct a sleep study is the first step. Your child will be watched overnight by their doctor as they record their brain wave activity, breathing patterns, snoring, oxygen levels, heart rate, and muscle activity.
If your child has been officially diagnosed with sleep apnea, a number of treatments may be recommended depending on their case. If large tonsils are the reason for their disrupted sleep, your kid may need minor surgery to have them removed.
Another treatment that may be recommended is a CPAP mask. If your child is a mild-to-moderate sufferer of sleep apnea, they may find an oral appliance to be a more comfortable and convenient alternative. Dr. Ura can custom-craft a small mouthpiece that fits snug to their mouth and allows your child to sleep soundly through the night without any interruptions.