Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children

Obstructive sleeping apnea or OSA is a condition in which an individual has problem breathing properly as the airway gets blocked intermittently while sleeping. Statistically, among children, studies show that 20% snore while sleeping, while half of them snore at night. However, nearly 1% has OSA.

Basically, whenever children sleep, the muscles in the throat relax. If it relaxes too much, it may block the passageway of air. On other cases, though there is nothing wrong with the muscles in the throat, the airway could be narrower than normal. So when the muscles relax, the airway will tighten resulting to blocking of air.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea

The following are the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • loud snoring or noisy breathing during sleep
  • periods of not breathing – although the chest wall is moving, no air or oxygen is moving through the nose and mouth into the lungs. The duration of these periods is variable and measured in seconds.
  • mouth breathing – the passage to the nose may be completely blocked by enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
  • restlessness during sleep (with or without periods of being awake)
  • excessive daytime sleepiness or irritability (because the quality of sleep is poor, the child may be sleepy or irritable in the daytime)
  • hyperactivity during the day

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

Being certain whether your child has OSA or not, it is advised that you consult a sleep specialist where they could treat you children through a process called polysomnography or PSG, which is done in laboratories. PSG is the only way known to correctly determine if your child really has OSA.

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea

In curing obstructive sleeping apnea, sleep specialists may you to have your child either undergo reconstructive surgery in which the adenoids or tonsils could be removed or provide him or her ventilation devices like the continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. In addition to that, you can have them alter their lifestyle like doing exercise, a change in behavior and diet.

Specific treatment for obstructive sleep apnea will be determined by your child’s physician based on:

  • your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
  • cause of the condition
  • your child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference