Sleep apnea is commonly diagnosed in adults as the probability of having this disorder increases with age. However, children are not invincible to this disorder! Some of the signs to look for are also present in adults, with a few key differences. Don’t worry, there are ways to treat sleep apnea, especially if detected early. 

What causes sleep apnea?

When identifying sleep apnea, it is important to first understand what it is. To put it simply, it is caused by a restricted airflow while sleeping. The factors leading up to this diagnosis vary person to person. Factors could include obesity, age, alcohol consumption, and much more. Diagnosing sleep apnea in your child may prove to be difficult since children typically tend to be healthier than adults! 

What to look for in your child’s sleeping habits

Similar to signs of sleep apnea in adults, look out for snoring with pauses or gaps while your child is sleeping. This could be a sign that your child has stopped breathing momentarily while sleeping. In addition to this, look for very heavy breathing while sleeping. This is a sign that your child is struggling to receive the proper airflow necessary for a restful sleep. 

Another symptom is restless sleep or sleeping in unusual positions. Kids tend to sleep in odd positions as it is, so don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. If your child sleepwalks or has night terrors often, this could be another sign of sleep apnea. Bedwetting, especially after your child has been toilet-trained successfully, is another telling sign. All of these distractions during sleep may affect your child during their daily routine, resulting in tiredness and irritability. 

Symptoms vary from child to child, and your child may not experience every single symptom. Additionally, your child may experience different symptoms altogether. So, take note of the symptoms your child experiences, and talk to your doctor about the best next step. 

Treatment options

Rest assured, there are treatments available to help your child with their sleep apnea diagnosis. Similar to adult treatments, doctors will typically try to treat this disorder with lifestyle changes first. For example, ensuring that your child is at a healthy, ideal weight for their age and height. Another treatment would be incorporating exercise such as yoga into the child’s daily routine. This will promote a healthy lifestyle and result in sounder sleeps. 

If the many natural treatments fail to improve your child’s sleep apnea, an oral appliance may be introduced. This appliance will put pressure on the tongue, to ensure the airway is unobstructed during sleep. 

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale to learn more about your child’s risk for sleep apnea and what treatment options are available.