Sleep Apnea in Kids is More Common Than You Think
For a long time, sleep apnea was thought of as a condition that really only affected adults. However, studies conducted around the globe have shown how children are also at risk for developing this dangerous condition. In 2010 the Korean Journal of Pediatrics put out a study that estimated 3% of children are affected by pediatric obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Another study which was conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation estimated that between one and ten percent of American children suffer from OSAS.
One of the biggest reasons why OSAS has been so obscure for so long is misdiagnosis. Just like adults, kids with sleep apnea experience daytime fatigue, unusual behavior, daydreaming, are irritable, and may snore deeply when they sleep. However, as this is often reflected in poor school performance, it’s commonly misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder (ADD). Children with OSAS tend to miss important treatment and get medicated for a condition they don’t even have.
Why Sleep Apnea in Children is So Serious
No matter how young you are, OSA can put your health at risk. In kids, however, these risks can stunt their development. For children, the causes of sleep apnea are often related to anatomical issues including enlarged tonsils, large tongues, small necks, or too-small jaws. All of these can obstruct airflow, causing the disruption in breathing each night. In addition to triggering apneic episodes, these issues can leave kids vulnerable to oral health problems like bite misalignment, tooth impaction, and even gum disease and cavities.
Sleep is a huge part of children’s development, making sleep apnea dangerous for those still growing. Kids missing out on sleep due to OSA are more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral problems. Childhood obesity can also be a major cause of sleep apnea in kids that can be solved with lifestyle changes. Slipping grades, hormonal imbalance, and high blood pressure are all issues that can be traced back to sleep apnea.
What are the Warning Signs Your Child has Sleep Apnea
Awareness of pediatric OSA has increased greatly over the year, indicating that it’s getting easier for children to receive a correct sleep apnea diagnosis. If you notice your child experiencing any of the following symptoms, we recommend bringing them in for a screening:
- Nighttime bedwetting and strange sleeping position
- Deep, raucous snoring
- Daytime fatigue or daydreaming
- Irritability, crankiness, or difficulty focusing
Getting Tested and Treated
A proactive diagnosis can help us get your child the care they deserve. To learn more about treating sleep apnea in kids, call North Texas Sleep Solution for a screening and consultation. We work closely with local pulmonologists and pediatricians to obtain a diagnosis and then we create a comprehensive treatment plan that improves your child’s overall health and wellbeing. Call today to learn more.