The Parents Guide To Childhood Sleep Apnea

Child suffering from Sleep Apnea, wearing a respiratory mask.

When your average adult hears the term "sleep apnea", they think of their fellow grownups. A surprising number of people don't associate this disorder with children. Here's a fact about sleep apnea: For children between the ages of two and eight, up to 4% of them suffer from childhood sleep apnea! OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) could well be an affliction affecting your child if they have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Experiences daytime hyperactivity
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • While inhaling, makes squeaking noises
  • Sleeps with her or his head tilted back
  • During sleep, makes gasping or choking noises

Compared to adults, it is less prevalent for OSA to show up in children, however.

Childhood Sleep Apnea – What Is It?

Symptoms are much the same in children as they are in adults for sleep apnea. It is a physical airway blockage in the back of the throat, which during sleep, hinders airflow out and in of the lungs. This is caused by excess fatty tissue, overly large hypopneas or tonsils, etc. As a result, during the child's sleep, blood oxygen levels can deteriorate to a dangerous level. "Abnormal breathing events" is a term commonly used to refer to sleep apnea.

Watch for the following symptoms:

  • Poor performance scholastically
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor attention span
  • Behavioral issues
  • Sleepiness during the daytime
  • During sleep, breathing pauses
  • Bedwetting
  • Mouth breathing (snoring occurs in approximately 10% of children with sleep apnea)

Risk Factors Associated with Childhood Sleep Apnea

To identify if your child is suffering from sleep apnea or is at risk of developing it, the following factors can be used:

  • Sometimes, the sole cause of apnea is seasonal allergies. Inflammatory responses and upper respiratory congestion make existing symptoms worse.
  • The airway can be blocked by enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Since, during sleep, the tissues in the throat and mouth relax, they are more likely to block the throat when they collapse.
  • Obesity can be a contributing factor to snoring and restriction in airways, particularly for children between 12 and 18. Excess fatty throat tissue can also be developed as a result.
  • Contributing to labored breathing, a high arched or elongated soft palate can lead to an upper airway collapse.

Treatment for Childhood Sleep Apnea

Included in treatments for childhood sleep apnea are the following:

  • Relevant medical treatment is advised if the cause is related to adenoids or tonsils.
  • Because their facial bone growth is almost complete, for older children, oral or dental appliances may be prescribed.
  • To provide temporary relief, use of local anti-inflammatory decongestants.
  • Suitable allergy medications may be prescribed if the sleep apnea is found to be aggravated by seasonal allergies.
  • Also recommended may be surgical corrections of oral or mandibular abnormalities in case of anatomical anomalies.
  • Fitted to the child's face to wear during sleeping hours, options may include a CPAP/BiPAP – a non-invasive ventilation mask.

Find the Children's Sleep Apnea Devices You Need at LOOKEE

LOOKEE Health-Technology provides sleep apnea products for all ages.

For children, our Smart Kids O2 Sleep and Activity Oxygen Monitor comes equipped with a number of desirable features, making it one of the best in its category.

For infants, we carry the Smart Baby O2 Baby Monitor, which also comes with numerous exciting features.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Check us out today!