One of the biggest problems with sleep apnea is that millions of people have no idea they have it. Sadly, this is even truer for children. Although only approximately 5% of children have sleep apnea, it can have harmful effects on their health and development. To prevent more children from suffering from sleep apnea, Kuhn Dental Associates wants to provide patients with the information they need to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea in children so they can receive treatment immediately.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
Please watch out for the following symptoms in your own children.
- Mouth breathing
- Daytime sleepiness
- Poor school performance
- Concentration difficulty
- Breathing pauses while sleeping
- Lack of attention span
- Behavior issues
Untreated Sleep Apnea in Children
Unfortunately, most children with sleep apnea go untreated or misdiagnosed. Oftentimes doctors might mistake a child’s behavior issues or lack of attention span as ADHD when in reality they are not getting enough sleep at night due to sleep apnea.
Children with untreated sleep apnea were 4 to 5 times more likely to show behavioral problems than children without sleep apnea. Children are also at a higher risk for developing heart problems or hypertension as they grow older. They are also 3 times more likely to achieve C grades or lower.
If your child is a mouth breather, this can lead to an increase in cavities and dental problems down the line.
Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children
The causes of sleep apnea in children are slightly different than those of adults. For instance, the main cause of sleep apnea in children is from enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Once the child has these removed, their sleep apnea will go away.
Just like adults, obesity is also a leading cause of sleep apnea in children. This is because excess weight is often carried in the neck which can disrupt the airflow when the airway becomes relaxed.
Diagnosing and Treating Childhood Sleep Apnea
If you believe your child has sleep apnea, it’s important to receive a diagnosis. To diagnose your child, you will need to ask your doctor for a sleep test. Your child can take the test in the comfort of your home or at a sleep clinic. The test will monitor your child while they sleep to confirm or deny if they have sleep apnea. You can take our online questionnaire to get an idea if your child or you should visit a doctor for sleep apnea.
If they become diagnosed, it’s important to determine the cause for the most effective treatment. If the cause of your child’s sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, your doctor will recommend having them removed with surgery. If obesity is a cause, your doctor will recommend that your child loses weight to a healthy level. In the meantime, we can provide your child with an oral appliance to open their airway while they sleep. This will prevent them from snoring or experiencing any other sleep apnea symptoms that may disrupt their life or cause behavioral problems.