You probably enjoy the sight of your child peacefully sleeping in bed, but what if their nights aren’t as restful as you’d like? If your little one has been snoring or gasping for air while they’re asleep, they might have sleep apnea. Very few children suffer from this disorder, but those that do could be in danger if you don’t act right away. If you want to help your child with sleep apnea, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this condition and how it can interrupt their sweet dreams.
What is Sleep Apnea?
When you’re sleeping, your brain automatically controls the muscles that control breathing. However, if your child has sleep apnea, their airway will be blocked multiple times during the night. Every time this causes breathing to stop (which could occur as many as 30 times each hour), your little one’s body wakes up briefly for oxygen.
Why Does your Child Have Sleep Apnea?
Most of the time, children with sleep apnea have unusual enlarged tonsils or adenoids that fall back whenever they lay down to sleep. With the tissues in the way, oxygen can’t travel through the airway very easily. As your child goes, this kind of sleep apnea might go away, but the damage to their health and development will still be done.
How Will You Know Your Child Has Sleep Apnea?
Your child may not even realize that anything unusual is happening; in fact, they often won’t know that they keep waking up in the middle of the night since each awakening is so short. However, as a parent you can observe the warning signs that point to a sleep-related breathing issue. Look for symptoms such as:
- Snoring loudly or snorting, coughing, or choking during their sleep.
- Observable pauses in breathing.
- Bed wetting.
- Mouth breathing.
- General restlessness.
- Behavioral problems.
- Poor performance at school.
- Trouble paying attention.
As time goes by, you could see even worse symptoms such as disrupted growth or heart problems. Act quickly if you have even the slightest suspicion of sleep apnea; it could make all the difference for the quality of your child’s life!
What to Do if Your Child Has Sleep Apnea
Call a sleep dentist right away to learn more about the process for diagnosing a sleep disorder. The best treatment option will be different for every child. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing the tonsils or adenoids, but in other cases more traditional treatments – such as CPAP therapy or oral appliance therapy – might be required. The key is to begin the treatment as soon as possible; that way your child can get all the rest they need to do well in school and grow up healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Dustin C. Lively began his dental career in 1997. When he found out that dentists could help patients with sleep apnea, he decided to pursue advanced training so that he could provide custom-made sleep appliances. As a Mangum native, he’s happy to help children and adults in the area get the rest they deserve. To schedule an appointment for your little one, visit our website or call (580) 782-2027.