Obstructive sleep apnea in children is a very serious condition that can cause a multitude of problems for the affected child.
It is reported that children who suffer from sleep apnea do poorly in school, get into more conflicts and have a harder time paying attention to details.
All of these symptoms can cause quite the disruption in the life of the child as well as the parent who has to deal with the consequences of their actions. These issues can affect the child at school and at home, either of which is difficult to deal with.
If your child isn’t acting on their best behavior each day, have you considered that they might not be sleeping well at night, and that it could be the result of an underlying condition such as sleep apnea?
So many children are suffering and do not even realize there is a problem. Parents are suffering trying to determine what is causing the child’s behaviors. It is very difficult for all parties involved in the situation.
So many people chalk up their child’s behavioral issues to ADD, ADHD and other behavior problems when, in fact, it is obstructive sleep apnea.
Even doctors oftentimes make misdiagnosis of the condition when it first begins. The problem, one that can affect both boys and girls of all ages, causes a disruption in the sleep pattern.
When this happens, there is a pause in the breathing pattern. This causes a great burden on the quality of sleep that the child receives.
For most people who are suffering with the condition, the change in the normal breathing patterns occurs several times throughout the night.
Most people also suffer from sleep apnea problems each night that they go to sleep. When the sleep pattern is disrupted, it causes the child to be unable to enter the deep, relaxing REM stage of sleep that is needed to wake up feeling reinvigorated and energized.
Why Treatment is in Your Best Interest
Numerous studies have been conducted regarding obstructive sleep apnea in children. Those studies indicate that the quality of life of the child –and the parent caring for and dealing with their various actions – can be greatly improved with the help of the various treatments that are offered for the condition.
The biggest problem exists with the wrong diagnosis being given. The child is not helped, and the troubles and problems only continue to persist.
These studies revealed that many children diagnosed with other behavioral problems are actually suffering with sleep apnea instead.
Around 23% of the group of students portrayed in the search (approximately 263 children between the ages of 9 and 12) were found to have obstructive sleep apnea. Without the right diagnosis, there is no way the child can get well.
Other Problems Exist
Not only can sleep apnea have destructive consequences with the behavior of a child, it is also reported that children with the condition are more at risk for obesity and other health problems compared to those without obstructive sleep apnea.
This includes problems such as bedwetting and hyperactivity. Discovering that a child has sleep apnea is oftentimes a sigh of relief for parents who have led a battle to figure out what was wrong with their child. Knowing what to treat means there is help and hope ahead.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea in Children
Treating sleep apnea in children is something that doctors do on a case by case basis. The reason? There is high probability that most little ones actually ‘grow out of it’ as they get older.
However, when there are significant problems going on in the child’s life, intervention is certainly needed immediately to get life back on the right track.
Specialists are available to help patients bothered by sleep apnea. Seeking out the help of one of these professionals is a good idea if you suspect this might be a problem that is affecting the life of your child. Your general physician can probably make a referral for you.
The specialist will perform what is known as a polysomnograpy on the child to determine if sleep apnea is present.
It is a tool that can diagnose the condition, as well as determine the severity. The child must make an overnight stay in the hospital for the procedure to be performed.
An Apnea index will be given when the test is performed. Although there are no formal guidelines that must be followed regarding the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in children, however, most specialists recommend that children who present an AI that is 5 or greater be treated.
When the number is between 5 and 10, or more than 10 if the child is younger than 12 years old, treatment for the condition should be started as soon as possible.
Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in children is to remove both the tonsils and the adenoids. The results of such surgical procedures have been successful, and around 90% of all children are relieved from the symptoms and the condition known as OSA. In most cases, it takes about eight weeks for the condition to be completely eliminated.
For children not helped by the surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids, positive airway pressure is another source of treatment.
Pediatric patients may find that appliance made for mouth correction can also help with sleep apnea. A hard palate is one of the different appliances that can be used for aid in sleep apnea improvement.
It is also recommended that parents ensure that their child is within a normal weight range, especially if sleep problems are persistent.
Children who are overweight or obese are much harder to rid of the condition, and a number of other risks are present in the treatment process.
A good diet is also imperative in treatment. Your child should be consuming regular portions of healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
Soda should be avoided whenever possible, and water should be given for thirst throughout the day.