What is Childhood Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition where a child repeatedly stops breathing during sleep These episodes last from 10 seconds to a minute Usually they occur because of an obstruction in the airways, most commonly due to big tonsils and/or adenoids
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children At Night-time
Children with Sleep Apnea almost always snore, struggle to breathe and have a restless sleep There may be frequent pauses in breathing and snoring lasting between 10 seconds and a minute The pauses may end with a gasping or choking noise and there may be a brief awakening as the child struggles to breathe There may be night sweats, mouth breathing, sleeping in unusual sleeping positions and morning headaches
During the day:
Children with sleep apnoea wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed They may feed poorly and fail to gain weight and grow Behaviour and learning problems during the day and poor performance at school may be the presentation In the long-term, if untreated, sleep apnoea can cause heart problems and high blood pressure which may in severe cases be life threatening
Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children:
The most common cause of Sleep Apnea in childhood is enlarged tonsils in the back of the throat and/or enlarged adenoids in the back of the nose Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea in children, with snoring and other symptoms of sleep related obstructed breathing being more common in obese than in non-obese children Children with certain medical conditions associated with weak muscles or low muscle tone and enlarged tongue, such as Downs Syndrome Cranio-facial abnormalities which affect the tongue or airways, for example very small jaws or flat faces