Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common problem that affects an estimated 2% of all children. If not treated, sleep apnea can cause a diversity of problems like heart, behavior, learning, and growth problems.
Symptoms to look for:
• Frequent snoring
• Problems breathing during night time
• Sleepiness during the day
• Difficulty paying attention
• Behavioral problems
Your doctor may recommend a Polysomnogram. A sleep study conducted at a hospital or a specialized medical center during which the medical staff monitors your child’s’ sleep patterns. Several sensors will be attached to the child, to monitor breathing, oxygenation, and brain waves.
Depending on the results of the study, you will be informed if your child suffers from sleep apnea. Specialists like pediatric pulmonologists, otolaryngologists, and neurologists will make the diagnosis.
There are solutions for treating the Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
The most common way is to remove your child’s tonsils and adenoids:
For children with larger tonsils (a pair of soft tissue masses located at the rear of the throat) and adenoids (glands located in the roof of the mouth, behind the soft palate where the nose connects to the throat). This surgery is highly effective in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Efficient treatment of the positive airway pressure (CPAP), which calls for the child to wear a mask during his sleep. This mask delivers stable air pressure through the nose, allowing him to breathe comfortably.
Children born with other severe medical conditions are at higher risk for sleep apnea. Children with these conditions may need additional treatments.
Just like adults, children who are overweight are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Their condition will improve with a special weight loss diet but may need to use CPAP until the weight is lost.
Remember that a good night’s sleep is crucial for good health. If you notice any symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, talk to your pediatrician.
Dr. Pierre Majdalani