Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder that affects men, women, and children.
Most commonly found in girls and boys between the ages of two and six, OSA causes breathing cessation just as it does in adults. With that being said, obstructive sleep apnea can occur in children of all ages.
In most cases, the most common cause of OSA in children is tonsils and adenoids. If they are enlarged, there is a lack of muscle tone affecting breathing.
If your child has enlarged tonsils and adenoids, they may also be affected when they are awake. Think of it like breathing out of a broken straw that collapses momentarily just long enough to block the airflow. This makes it harder for the child to breathe causing the boy or girl to wake up so that he or she can start breathing again.
Kids who are overweight are very prone to obstructive sleep apnea. However, children who have OSA may be underweight. Other children with a high risk include those with small jaws, craniofacial syndromes, Down syndrome, or muscle weakness.
Just like adults, children can have as many as 30 disruptions every hour during the night. This results in a poor night’s sleep, problems staying awake during the day and other issues. Most children do not know they are waking up at night with parents deeming it a restless sleep.
While every child is different, the most common signs of OSA include:
While the chest wall may still be moving, there is no oxygen or airflow moving through the mouth and nose into the lungs. The duration of these cessations varies and is measured in seconds.
If your son or daughter snores loudly or suffers from noisy breathing while he or she is asleep it could be OSA. Nonetheless, kids who snore may not be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
The passage to your child’s nose could be blocked completely. Large tonsils and adenoids or obesity could cause blockages. If your child is overweight, he or she may have an enlarged neck making it difficult to breathe through the nose.
Frequent arousals during sleep could be an indication of OSA. If you notice your son or daughter tossing and turning while sleeping, it could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Your children may hyperextend or arch his or her neck backwards while sleeping as it helps to open the airways. Your child may even sit up while sleeping.
If your son or daughter is irritable and grumpy, it may have something to do with obstructive sleep apnea. Frustration, difficulty staying awake during school and attention problems may be attributed to OSA.
Other signs of OSA include bed-wetting, school problems, chronic ear infections, and problems with adenoids and tonsils.
If left untreated, OSA can cause high blood pressure, poor growth, behavioral issues, and even heart failure.
While every child is different, oral appliance therapy may be an option for your son or daughter. Talk to your child’s doctor or sleep specialist to determine if oral appliance therapy is right for you.
If you would like more information regarding oral appliance therapy for OSA in children, call and schedule an appointment with a preferred oral appliance provider.
Dr. Jack Ringer is a preferred oral appliance provider who can determine what appliance will be best for your child who has been diagnosed with OSA.
Call for a no obligation consultation with your oral appliance provider in Anaheim Hills today.