Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a debilitating condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted continually during their sleep. This breathing disorder affects millions of adults, as well as children of all ages. It is thought to be hereditary, and kids who have enlarged tonsils or adenoids run a higher risk of developing it over time.
OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea, but there are three kinds altogether. Central Sleep Apnea, in which the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is caused by a blockage, and mixed apnea, which is a combination of the two.
Some children with sleep apnea have relatively moderate symptoms that they may simply outgrow. That being said, untreated sleep apnea can result in problems with growth, learning, and behavior. In acute cases, it can cause health issues such as heart and lung problems, or high blood pressure.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea – Look for these symptoms if you think your child might have sleep apnea:
- Waking up with headaches, sleepiness, irritability, or hyperactivity.
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks during the day.
- Loud snoring, often with gasping, choking, and snorts.
- Long pauses in breathing while sleeping (longer than two breath cycles).
- Excessive sweating at night because of the strain of trying to breathe.
- Other factors: obesity, exposure to tobacco smoke and low muscle tone.
If you have reason to believe that your child has sleep apnea, you can start by telling their doctor. They will ask you about their sleep habits and examine his or her upper airway. If they think that your child’s weight or allergies may be causing the problem, you may be advised to deal with those conditions first. You could also be referred to a lung specialist, dentist, or sleep expert.
The test that is most often used to diagnose sleep apnea is called a polysomnogram. It monitors eye movement, breathing, brain waves, and blood oxygen levels, as well as snoring sounds during sleep. One type of polysomnography is a portable study that can be done at home, but it isn’t as accurate. The other method uses trained sleep specialists in a sleep lab with continuous observation.
In many cases, removing the tonsils and possibly the adenoids takes care of sleep apnea in children. Some kids with obstructive sleep apnea need to use a continuous positive airway pressure machine. It is important to note that these methods don’t truly relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea.
The good news is that dental practitioners are now able to treat patients with DNA Appliances, which alleviate sleep apnea in adults and children, and enable the body to naturally reduce snoring.
Using highly advanced equipment, dentists can now digitally photograph your tooth, and send a computer-assisted design to a milling machine. Download our free ebook to learn more: