Sleep Apnea in Children

In general, since Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) caused lack of restful sleep, kids might have a hard time waking in the morning, be tired throughout the day, and have attention or other behavior problems. As a result, sleep apnea can hurt school performance. Teachers and others may think a child has attention deficit hyperactivity or learning difficulties; therefore, children generally are underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Watch your children for other common sing and symptoms of OSA such as:

  • bedwetting (especially if a child previously stayed dry at night)sleep-apnea-300x238
  • very restless sleep and sleeping in unusual positions
  • snoring, often accompanied with pauses, snorts, or gasps
  • heavy breathing while sleeping

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most common cause of OSA in kids. Other factors include:

  • family history of sleep apnea
  • being overweight and having large neck size
  • medical conditions, such as down syndrome or cerebral palsy
  • defects in the structures of the mouth, jaw, or throat (narrow airway)
  • large tongue (blocking the airway)

If enlarged tonsils or adenoids are causing the apnea, the doctor usually refer the child to an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). The ENT might decide on performing an operation. Surgeries to improve upper airway patency in children are Tonsillectomy (removing tonsil) and/or Adenoidectomy (removing adenoid), which has a success rate of 80-90%; however, 13% of those cured will relapse in adolescence. 

If tonsils and adenoids are not the cause of OSA or if symptoms of OSA remain after the surgery, patient would require continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

When excess weight is a factor in OSA, it is important to work with a doctor or dietitians on diet changes, exercise, and other safe weight-loss methods. Call CanSleep to book a half hour free consultation appointment with our Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) for nutritional support, meal plans, lifestyle recommendation and sleep hygiene techniques for your child if being overweight is the cause of your child’s OSA.

By Bahareh Ezzati (RRT)