Sleep Apnea In Children – Recognizing Signs & Risk Factors

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when tissue in the throat and mouth temporarily blocks the airway during sleep, resulting in interruptions in breathing. This is much less common in kids compared to adults, but it can still happen.

And when it does, it can be harder to diagnose OSA. So in this blog from Del Mar Dental Studio, we’ll discuss a few of the top signs of sleep apnea in kids, as well as the risk factors that may raise their risk of developing apnea. 

Recognizing The Signs Of Sleep Apnea In Children

It’s important to realize that in adults, daytime sleepiness and drowsiness are often signs of sleep apnea, but this is less common in kids. Children with sleep apnea may not seem excessively sleepy or tired, but may be more prone to having behavioral problems, and may show other, more subtle signs of apnea. 

During sleep, the most common signs of pediatric sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring with periodic pauses or interruptions in breathing

  • Restless sleep with a lot of tossing and turning

  • Snorting, choking, or coughing during sleep

  • Mouth breathing during sleep

  • Nighttime sweating

  • Night terrors

  • Wetting the bed 

During the day, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Problems at school

  • Difficulties focusing and paying attention

  • Learning difficulties

  • Behavioral challenges

  • Poor weight gain and development

  • Hyperactivity

If you notice the above symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea, you should talk to your pediatrician about the condition. They may work with a sleep specialist or another doctor to confirm the diagnosis, and determine the best next steps for your child. 

Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea In Kids 

There are a lot of different factors that could raise your child’s risk of developing OSA. Here are a few of the most common risk factors to look out for in your child. 

  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids – This is the most common cause of OSA. Removing the tonsils and adenoids will usually be recommended to eliminate the blockage.

  • Obesity – In kids, obesity is not as closely associated with OSA as it is in adults. However, obesity and overweightness can still contribute to pediatric sleep apnea.

  • Skull and/or facial abnormalities – A narrow palate, or a cleft palate, for example, may make a child more likely to develop OSA.

  • Certain diseases and genetic conditions – Sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy (CP) and a variety of other genetic conditions and diseases can raise the risk of OSA. 

Get The Help You Need For Pediatric Sleep Apnea At Del Mar Dental Studio!

Pediatric sleep apnea is a serious condition. If left untreated, it can lead to failure to thrive and grow in kids, raise the risk of heart disease, and more. If you suspect that your child has OSA in Del Mar, you should get help right away.

Dr. Todd Pizzi is here to help. As a family dentist and an expert in dental sleep apnea treatment, he can work with you, your child, and your pediatrician to protect your child’s health, restore their breathing, and treat their apnea. Contact us online or give us a call at (858) 755-0187 to get started right away. 

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