Can Sleep Apnea Affect Children

Sleep Solutions

Whenever we hear about snoring, an image of an overweight, elderly person comes to mind. The same is also true of other sleep problems like insomnia, generally considered to be ‘grown-up’ issues. However, images like these may prevent us from identifying a sleep disorder in children, who exhibit different symptoms when compared to adults. If your child doesn’t seem refreshed even after 8-10 hours of sleep, it’s quite likely that he has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea.

What causes Sleep Apnea in Children?

The factors that cause sleep apnea in children are slightly different from those associated with adults. Here are the most common risk factors for sleep apnea in children:

  1. A family history of sleep apnea
  2. Small jaw
  3. Disproportionately large tongue
  4. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  5. Obesity
  6. Low muscle tone
  7. Exposure to cigarette smoke
  8. Seasonal allergies
  9. Certain medications

For children, sleep is a crucial part of healthy growth and sleep apnea can adversely impact normal development. Children’s body recovers and grows during deep sleep and a lack of sleep can have serious consequences on their physical and mental well being, some of which are listed below.

  1. Sleep apnea can result in stunted physical growth, due to insufficient production of growth hormones
  2. Decreased sleep causes decreased immunity, and the child may fall sick easily
  3. Sleep apnea is also associated with lowered cognitive abilities and mental sharpness
  4. A lack of concentration and memory causes poor academic performance and increased stress
  5. Without enough sleep, children become moody and irritable most of the time
  6. Sleep apnea predisposes a child to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiac diseases
  7. Lack of sleep increases the production of stress hormones as well as appetite inducing hormones which can lead to obesity

Sleep apnea in children can be easily identified by parents, and if the child appears groggy during the day, it is worth checking out if they exhibit any of the symptoms listed below.

Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children

  1. Loud snoring
  2. Mouth breathing
  3. Abnormal or contorted sleep positions
  4. Sweating during sleep
  5. Bedwetting
  6. Morning headaches

If your child displays any or a combination of the symptoms listed above, it is best to get him tested at a sleep clinic. You will most likely be recommended a sleep study for a confirmed diagnosis of sleep apnea. The study is painless and involves taping sensors at certain points on the child’s body, which transmit information to the sleep technician while the child sleeps. This information includes heart rate, oxygen level, eye movements and more.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea in Children

Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, the sleep physician may analyze the cause of the apnea and if the cause appears to be an anatomical problem like enlarged adenoids, surgical removal of the same may be suggested. However, as children grow, the shape of their jaw and face are likely to change, and the sleep apnea may disappear over time. An obese child can also benefit from lifestyle changes to aid weight loss. In the meantime, they may be advised to use a CPAP device to ensure that they are able to get a full night’s rest and their normal growth isn’t affected.

A CPAP device is a small machine placed on the child’s bedside, with a tube that goes to a mask to be placed over the face. The mask may cover the nose or both the nose and mouth, and are available in different shapes and sizes. They are usually quite soft and are held in place with light straps. CPAP therapy usually results in significant relief for most children, and the mask and pressure of air can be adjusted as they grow.

The American Sleep Apnea Association claims that 1-4% of children between the ages of 2 and 8 have sleep apnea, which can have far-reaching consequences on their health. Timely diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea in children can enable them to have a healthy and happy childhood.

Similar Articles

8 Effective Home Remedies to Manage Gingivitis

If you are one of the millions of people who have gingivitis, you may understand how uncomfortable and embarrassing it can be. Gingivitis is a primary stage of gum disease that causes gum inflammation, swelling, and redness. 

7 Foods That Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

The number of people living with heart disease in the UK has reached an all-time high. Every five minutes, another person has admitted to the hospital due their condition worsens enough for them to require immediate treatment! 

Release Of Information

A release of information is a legal document that allows patients to specify what parts of their medical records they want to be made public, to whom they want those parts made public, for how long, and under what legal restrictions or rules. 

Inpatient & Outpatient CDI

Improvements in CDI's accuracy can lead to more accurate compensation for inpatient institutions. It's not just the first payment of claims that an inpatient CDI program has a financial impact on, though.

fear of death

Death anxiety, or the fear of death, is the persistent, abnormal fear of dying, whether it is the expected event of death, the process of death and dying, or a general fear of one’s own nonexistence.

Speech Disorders

It's only natural for young children to make mistakes in the early years of speaking as they experiment with new sounds and words. Some kids will talk with a lisp; others may stutter or mispronounce letters, syllables, or words.

teenage rehabilitation center

If you think your teenage child has a problem with alcohol or drug use, then you could think about contacting a rehabilitation centre where they will be able to treat a variety of different problems.

How to Stay on Top of Your Health as You Age

It’s no secret that as we age, health complications can arise. However, this doesn’t have to be your future.

How to Prepare for Old Age

There’s no escaping it; old age will come to us all. Try as we might, running from ageing is impossible. But, we can prepare for it. Old age will stop looking so menacing with a few lifestyle changes and planning.