Obstructive sleep apnea in children is a serious disorder. Therefore, it is worrying when children suffer from this. Although obstructive sleep apnea is not a common disorder, it can affect up to 3% of children.
What is obstructive sleep apnea in children?
This type of sleep apnea, which occurs during children’s sleep, causes partial or complete airway obstruction. This means that at some point during sleep, they stop breathing. When this happens, the child often wakes up, thereby disturbing sleep and it provokes fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
It is important to pay close attention to this problem, which occurs during sleep.
Causes of sleep apnea in children:
- Adenotonsillar hypertrophy. In this case, the adenoid glands (tissues located in the upper part of the throat) are too large, and therefore reduce the space through which air passes.
- Adiposity. Excess fat can lead to the accumulation of soft tissues around the airways, causing narrowing, which leads to apnea.
- Neuromuscular diseases. They are often characterized by a loss of muscle strength, which can cause sleep apnea in children. They usually progress.
- Craniofacial disorders. These defects can affect the airways, causing disturbances and a greater tendency to sleep apnea.
Signs and symptoms
Now that you know some of the reasons why children may suffer from sleep apnea, it is important to identify the signs and symptoms of this disorder.
One such sign may be snoring. However, children may also have night sweats for no apparent reason or somnambulism. These symptoms usually cause hyperactivity, headache, and attention deficit during the day.
Your child’s pediatrician’s report will help start treatment as soon as possible to avoid other complications such as cardiovascular disease.
Treatment of sleep apnea in children
Depending on what is causing obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor will decide on the appropriate treatment.
If obstructive sleep apnea is caused by obesity, for example, the child will be prescribed a specific diet to help her lose weight. The doctor will consider other options if it does not solve the problem or the child can not lose weight.
- Device for continuous positive airway pressure. This is a device that prevents respiratory problems during the night. The child will have to sleep with a mask that will be connected to a tube that puts positive pressure on the airways.
- Mouthpiece. It is a device or oral device that keeps the throat open by moving the jaw forward. Plus it also prevents snoring.
- Surgery. This is for more severe cases (although it is not used as often). This may focus on the jaw, neck, or tissue removal in the case of adenoids.
All of these options alleviate the symptoms discussed above and allow children to enjoy quality sleep.
Remember that sleep apnea in children can lead to cardiovascular problems and even sudden death. Therefore, early appropriate treatment is important to prevent complications.
Picture Credit: VistaCreate