Treating Children with Sleep Apnea
Can Sleep Apnea Affect Children?
Sleep apnea diagnoses in adolescents have continuously risen as the sleep disorder is beginning to gain more awareness. Although it’s most commonly found in adults, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been found to affect 1-5% of children. Most cases have been found to affect children between the ages of two and eight, and habitual snoring is often the first indication of the disorder.
However, many cases of sleep apnea are often misdiagnosed as ADHD because of its correlating symptoms. This can stop your child from receiving effective relief for their condition and it’s important to look at the distinct warning signs of sleep apnea so you can get them the proper treatment.
Signs to Look Out For
If you’re unsure about your child’s condition, especially if they’ve been previously diagnosed with ADHD, then it’s crucial to understand the symptoms of sleep apnea in children. If you do notice your child experiencing these symptoms, the best method to officially diagnose their potential disorder is through a sleep study.
Along with snoring, look out for other symptoms in your child, such as:
- Slow growth
- Anger problems
When left untreated, sleep apnea can put your child’s overall health at risk. Some kids may experience right-sided heart failure from high blood pressure, diabetes, and problems with cognitive functions. There’s also a higher chance of your son or daughter being obese due to their sleep difficulties because they’re too tired for daytime activities and eat more due to lack of energy.
Since sleep apnea and ADHD have similar symptoms such as lack of focus, irritability, and excessive sleepiness, it’s often unclear what the causes of these problems are. In many cases where the child has been diagnosed with ADHD, doctors will later discover that their behavioral issues are actually due to their chronic sleep difficulties.
That’s why it’s best to find a doctor to conduct an official sleep study for your son or daughter if you notice additional symptoms.
Discovering Treatment for Your Child
After you’ve received a proper sleep study from a pediatric sleep doctor for your son or daughter, your next step is to find effective treatments that work best for them. Some doctors, like an ENT, will often suggest tonsil or adenoid removal if they’re the reason for their sleep apnea episodes.
Other doctors may prescribe a CPAP mask that opens up your child’s airway with gently pressurized air, allowing them to breathe regularly at night. Here at Aragona Sleep, we can offer an oral appliance which is worn at night, similar to a sports mouthguard, and slowly moves your kid’s jaw forward to clear the obstruction in their throat.
To find out which treatment is best for your little one, schedule a consultation with Dr. Aragona so you can learn more about their options.